All the Little Bird-Hearts by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow

Another Booker 2023 longlister. Whatever you do, do not read the copy for this book because it will ruin the entire story for you – though the conclusion is apparent from the beginning.

Sunday lives in an inherited house with her sixteen-year-old daughter Dolly. As Dolly is growing up and away from Sunday, Sunday is uncertain about the future. Her whole life is Dolly; Sunday leads a very controlled existence. But that summer, the house next door is rented by Rollo and Vita, who accept Sunday for who she is and build the small community Sunday didn’t know she wanted.

The plot of this book is very, very thin – I mostly felt like I was waiting for the book to happen. I love a plotless book, but this had too much story to qualify as one, and not enough to sustain it. What I did really like is that Sunday is a fully-formed autistic character (written by someone who’s autistic as well), and presented with all of her complexities. I also appreciated how very slice-of-time this book felt, though there were threads dropped that didn’t go anywhere. The others, Dolly, Rollo, and Vita, are all good characters as well, there just wasn’t enough for any of them to do.

Not a book that should make it to the Booker shortlist.

Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow received a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Kent and has extensive personal, professional, and academic experience relating to autism. Like her protagonist, Sunday Forrester, in All the Little Bird-Hearts, Viktoria is autistic. She has presented her doctoral research internationally, most recently speaking at Harvard University on autism and literary narrative. Viktoria lives with her husband and children on the coast of north-east Kent. This is her first novel.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Algonquin Books (Dec 5 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1643756613
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1643756615