by Bridget Bufford
Review by Hope McPheeters, Director of ELLA’S HOPE FOR AUTISM
I read Cemetery Bird by Bridget Bufford and was asked to write a short review. When I received the book and author information, I was excited to get started. The author actually lives in my hometown and worked with children with developmental disabilities in my area. I knew that the book dealt with the topic of autism and I have two children on the spectrum so I thought I could relate.
Cemetery Bird is not just a book about autism though. This is a story of a young woman, Jenn or “Jay” as she is called by most, and her somewhat tortured childhood, abandoned by her addict mother and sent to her not-so-loving grandmother’s house to live away from her beloved father and bi-polar brother. The move to her grandmother’s was well intended, but for an 11 year old, this action left many scars on her heart. We are told her story through flashbacks between the 1980s in
I really appreciated the way this story was written. The two different story lines in Jay’s life were both interesting and emotional- as an 11 year old, she was angry, hurt and sad all at the same time as I imagine a girl would be if abandoned by her family. She was feisty, and I particularly liked a part in the flashback when she ran away from her grandmother’s, thinking she could travel and find her mom all by herself. Eventually, when Jay did break free and join a “Hotshot” firefighter group in
I think that Bufford did a good job of portraying
Again, when I agreed to read the book, I expected more to relate to the autism aspect. I do wish that it had a bit more of the complex disorder, but I found myself really caring about this very dysfunctional family. I enjoyed the relationship between Jay and Brandon, as I have a twin sister that has helped with my children on many occasions and I could see how special that sort of relationship is as well. The relationship between Brandon and Sam, his paternal grandfather was also very sweet and reminded me on how important the family is to a child with autism. Overall, Cemetery Bird, though not a story of autism itself, touched me and reminded me that our struggles would be much worse if we did not have family and a sense of home.