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Birds of paradise : a novel
Diana Abu-Jaber
Adult Fiction ABU-JAB

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Abu-Jaber's fourth novel (after Origin) is a stunning portrayal of a damaged family. Five years before, at 13, beautiful Felice Muir ran away from home and her mother, Avis, father, Brian, and older brother, Stanley, to live on the streets of Miami. Avis relies on sporadic meetings with her daughter although Felice often neglects to appear. When Brian thinks of Felice, he focuses on the past: "In that warm salty night, he felt as if the texture of time itself were thickening, settling over them, as if they would be held together in the froth of air, its silky threads attaching and keeping them safe, everlasting family." Work keeps all of them absorbed: Avis is an expert pastry chef, Brian a real estate lawyer haunted by Miami's gentrification, Stanley the owner of a popular organic food shop, and even Felice has occasional modeling gigs that bring in small influxes of cash. Felice has left them, but her parents and brother are also alienated from one other as they mark the passage of time and reflect on Felice's upcoming 18th birthday. Abu-Jaber's effortless prose, fully fleshed characters, and a setting that reflects the adversity in her protagonists' lives come together in a satisfying and timely story. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Stunningly beautiful Felice Muir spends her 18th birthday getting wasted at the beach with her homeless friends. Her pastry-chef mother, Avis, bakes her a cake but ends up crumbling it into the ocean as a potion-savvy Haitian neighbor looks on. Felice's father, Brian, and her brother, Stanley, simply try to ignore the day. Having run away from home at 13 to exorcise her guilt over a teenage prank gone wrong, Felice has spent the intervening years on the streets of Miami, occasionally earning money by modeling. The family deals with Felice's disappearance-and occasional reappearance-by immersing themselves in their work: Avis in her pastry business, Brian as an attorney in a development firm, and Stanley in his organic market. VERDICT Whether it's the creation of evanescent confections or the drug-ridden life of the streets, award-winning writer Abu-Jaber (Origin) impressively describes vastly different worlds with equal expertise. Particularly notable in this exceptionally written novel is Miami itself, portrayed as vividly as any of the characters. A literary family drama with extra appeal to foodies. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/11.]-Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Avis Muir
Still haunted by the disappearance of her 13-year-old daughter five years ago.
Pastry chef

Brian Muir
Still haunted by the disappearance of his 13-year-old daughter five years ago.

Felice Muir
Age: 18
Ran away from home when she was 13; has spent the past five years modeling tattoos, skateboarding, clubbing, and sleeping in a squat house or on the beach; torn between wanting her own life and wanting her family.

Stanley Muir
Felice's brother; owns a trendy food market.
Shop owner

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