Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers
By Celia C. Perez
September 3, 2019
Lane DiSanti comes from one of the most important families in all of Sabal Palms. According to legend, her ancestors brought the winter sun orange to south Florida, but did the DiSanti family really bring the winter sun orange to South Florida? That’s what Aster Douglas’s grandfather wants to find out. Frustrated by her overprotective parents, Ofelia goes to work with her mom at the DiSanti house looking for a story she can use for the Qwerty Sholes Journalism Contest. The winner of the contest goes to New York, and the chance to experience the world without parental supervision. Meanwhile, Cat Garcia—an avid bird enthusiast—has decided to leave the Floras (a girl scout troupe) in protest of their use of a feathered hat for the Miss Flora pageant.
Rejecting her grandmother’s idea of joining the Floras, Lane forms the Ostentation of Others and Outsiders by leaving secret messages for potential friends to find. When the girls all come together for the first time in the tree-house, things start off a bit rocky. When Cat opens up to the other girls about her disdain for the Floras’ hat because of its use of real bird feathers, the girls rally together to stop the Floras from using the hat in the next Miss Flora pageant. Their plans initially backfire, and the girls must decide whether or not they should give up or escalate their efforts. As their convictions strengthen, so too does their friendship.
The book is phenomenal and effortlessly shifts perspectives between the girls in each chapter. The book focuses heavily on what it means to be an activist, and how often the consequences of activism are not always equal. Ofelia, Cat, and Aster are all people of color and come from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Ofelia and Cat are both Cuban, and Aster is Bahamian. Although each girl enters the group with her own hidden objectives, by the end of the book they all come together with one objective—to return the feathers.