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A Song for Bijou

A Song for Bijou

4.6 6
by Josh Farrar

Life for Alex Schrader has never involved girls. He goes to an all-boys prep school and spends most of his time goofing around with his friends. But all that changes the first time he meets Bijou Doucet, a Haitian girl recently relocated to Brooklyn after the earthquake-and he is determined to win her heart. For Bijou, change is the only constant, and she's


Life for Alex Schrader has never involved girls. He goes to an all-boys prep school and spends most of his time goofing around with his friends. But all that changes the first time he meets Bijou Doucet, a Haitian girl recently relocated to Brooklyn after the earthquake-and he is determined to win her heart. For Bijou, change is the only constant, and she's surprised every day by how different life is in America, especially when a boy asks her out. Alex quickly learns that there are rules when it comes to girls-both in Haitian culture and with his own friends. And Bijou soon learns that she doesn't have to let go of her roots to find joy in her new life.

Told in alternating viewpoints against the vibrant backdrop of Haitian-American culture, Alex and Bijou take their first tender steps toward love in this heartwarming story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this modern-day Romeo and Juliet romance, Farrar (Rules to Rock By) contrasts the cultures of two neighborhoods and two students in Brooklyn, N.Y. Seventh-grader Alex Schrader is smitten when he first lays eyes on Bijou Doucet, the “beautiful girl with butterfly braids” who survived the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and now attends a nearby school. Courting Bijou proves problematic for Alex since Bijou’s strict uncle won’t let her leave the house unescorted—it takes creative strategizing, help from mutual friends, and breaking household rules for the two to get together. For Alex, getting to know Bijou and the music and culture of her community firsthand are worth the risk; Bijou is less sure. Inevitably, trouble brews when the couple are caught lying to their guardians, and a mean prank carried out by Alex’s nemesis also threatens to curtail the blossoming friendship. Although the novel’s celebratory conclusion is a little farfetched, Alex and Bijou’s narrative voices are distinct and authentic. Readers will admire his heroic traits and sympathize with her conflicting loyalties. Ages 10–14. (Feb.)
VOYA - Kathleen Beck
Sitting on the front steps of St. Christopher’s School, seventh-grader Alex is struck dumb by the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Her name is Bijou Doucet, she is from Haiti, and she is a new student at their sister school, St. Catherine’s. Alas for Alex, Haitian custom forbids social contact with anyone outside the family, and lily-white Alex is definitely an outsider. In alternating entries, Bijou and Alex tell their stories of attraction, cross-cultural complications, and the intricacies of seventh-grade society. Bijou begins to learn that accepting new customs does not mean betraying the old ones, and Alex learns that being a good friend is not always straightforward--and also how to play the Haitian rada drum. Farrar takes his time with this book, telling a quiet, sweet story about friendship and self-discovery. Alex and his best friends, Ira and Nomura, negotiate some rocky patches, confront the class bullies, and work on figuring out the opposite sex. Bijou tries to honor her heritage, overcome past tragedy, and learn how to live in a new culture. Characters, both major and minor, are complex and believable. The portrayal of middle school is spot-on. There is not a lot of action but the story moves along nonetheless, and the reader will care what happens. No sex, no drugs, no questionable language, a few dicey decisions--but on the whole, just a group of good kids going about the business of growing up. Libraries where “clean” fiction is popular will find this a solid choice. Ages 11 to 15.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Alex never cared very much about girls. Sure he has had them as friends, and has attended the dances where the St. Christopher boys mix and mingle with the St. Catherine's girls. But then he sees beautiful Bijou. She survived the earthquake in Haiti and now, three years later, has moved to New York to live with her aunt and uncle, and her uncle holds to old Haitian traditions of family and propriety. Bijou is to go to school and be a good girl. She isn't to talk to boys who are not related to her. When she and Alex meet, nothing goes as either of them expects. They face the clash of the two cultures and deal with bullies, a video scandal, and major misunderstandings. Bijou deals with multiple themes. There is the awkwardness of first love in middle school, learning about different cultures, the importance of staying loyal to friends even when a girlfriend enters the picture, and remaining true to yourself and what you believe. Even so, the story is well crafted, and the alternating points of view between Bijou and Alex keep it interesting. The bullies are accurate in their cruelty, and the dynamics among the characters are well done. Great for discussion.—Melyssa Kenney, Parkville High School, Baltimore, MD
Kirkus Reviews
Surviving middle school and puberty is an age-old challenge that video cameras and YouTube have only complicated, as vividly demonstrated in this enjoyable, seriocomic tale of new love, culture clash, adolescent social stratification and friendship. His obsession with girls has already driven a wedge between seventh-grader Alex Schrader and nerdy pals Nomura and Ira (beware geeks with video cameras) at their Brooklyn, boys-only parochial school. Still, when Alex is smitten with a beautiful Haitian student at their sister school, his loyal, inexperienced posse offers aid and (dubious) advice. Bijou Doucet, who lived through Haiti's horrific earthquake three years earlier, has more on her plate: life with her childless uncle and aunt in a new country whose adolescent culture Bijou's expected to ignore. No academic superstar (he didn't know Haiti was in the West Indies) and burdened with a cello-playing older sister, easygoing Alex cheerfully admits to being talent-free. But love leads him to unexpected places: to Flatbush and Haitian rara music, to discover a talent for drumming, to examine unquestioned values and priorities. Meanwhile, classmates threatened by the disruption of the social pecking order take action. Though Alex's voice is stronger, co-narrator Bijou is sensitively drawn. Farrar handles race and the complexities of interracial relationships by implication, through Alex's discovery of the vibrant, new (to him) world just blocks away. A solid, timely effort. (author's note) (Fiction. 12-15)
From the Publisher

“[A] sweet story about friendship and self-discovery. . . . The portrayal of middle school is spot-on” —VOYA on A Song for Bijou

“Well crafted . . . the alternating points of view between Bijou and Alex keep it interesting.” —School Library Journal on A Song for Bijou

“Modern, relevant, and highly enjoyable.” —Library Media Connection on A Song for Bijou

“Rock prevails in this spirited, never-say-die story about a girl and her dream. Farrar's first novel hits home about tween life, especially among the creative set, and for anyone who has ever been bullied.” —School Library Journal on Rules to Rock By

“The teens' voices are funny and distinct. . . . Middle-school rockers will enjoy the show.” —Kirkus Reviews on Rules to Rock By

“A rock 'n' roll version of Revenge of the Nerds for middle-graders. It not only provides great advice for those interested in the music industry but also for those dealing with the pressures of pre-teen life.” —Curledupkids.com on Rules to Rock By

Children's Literature - Lisa Colozza Cocca
Alex Shrader's life is spent hanging out with his friends Ira and Nomura, listening to his older sister Dolly practice the cello, and taking classes at St. Christopher's, an all-boys prep school. When the seventh-grader catches a glimpse of Bijou, the new girl at St. Catherine's all-girls school, he is immediately smitten. Bijou is beautiful and exotic and has a quality Alex cannot quite describe. She has recently moved to Brooklyn, NY from earthquake ravaged Haiti. Her uncle, her guardian, has strict rules that she must follow, and do not allow for her to spend time with a boy. Told from the alternating points of view of Alex and Bijou, the novel shows the bumpy path of first love. In addition to the typical school social status issues, Alex and Bijou must bridge the gap of cultural differences and prejudices if they are to have a relationship. Readers will find themselves rooting for the young couple as they learn more about themselves and each other. This is a tender, heartwarming first-love story. Reviewer: Lisa Colozza Cocca

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 8.32(h) x 1.10(d)
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

JOSH FARRAR is the author of Rules to Rock By. Josh wrote A Song for Bijou as a kind of love letter to the borough of Brooklyn, New York, where he lives. To research A Song for Bijou, he interviewed Haitians and Haitian Americans in the New York area and took long winter walks in the neighborhood of Flatbush. He also sampled many delicious West Indian dishes, listened to rara music in Prospect Park, and bruised his thumb in a Haitian drumming class.

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A Song for Bijou 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing!! Its a little racist at times but still good :-]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I luv it.
LibertadAraceli More than 1 year ago
First of all, I have to say if it hadn't been for the #WEneeddiversebooks hashtag, I would have never found about this adorable book. One of the whole points about the #Weneeddiversebooks hashtag was so that people like me could be introduced to more books that feature diverse characters beyond the "default". So wonderful authors like My fave author Ellen Oh and some new favorites like Lamar Giles, made the visibility of this type of awareness possible. Where do I begin? First off, it's not really second nature for me to pick up Middle Grade books. I'm always afraid that the protagonists aren't written intelligent enough for kids to learn something, or better yet for me to learn something.Luckily, This wasn't one of those books. The story revolves around two seventh graders, Alex and Bijou. Alex is born and bred in Brooklyn, NY, whereas Bijou is from Haiti. I guess you can say this book is one of those first love books because the story centers on the friendship between two kids who can grow to be something more. The POV switched from both characters, which I loved!!!!I loved hearing from both Bijou and Alex. I was worried it would only be from the boys POV. But seeing as though I've read very few POV's from boys so far, Alex might just be my favorite.The author choose to spend the first 50 pages introducing Alex and the next 50 introducing Bijou. After that it alternates depending on the situation. But I loved how Bijou and Alex's POV's weren't dumbed down for who this book is marketed at, for readers between the ages of 8-12. Sometimes I even forgot that i was reading from the POV of 2 12 year olds. I really loved that this wasn't a "race"book. Alex loved him some Bijou. I like how he didn't try to exoticize her, even though some of the boys tried to. He just liked her because she was a girl, a very pretty girl. Minorities, we hate the whole West Side Story-story, where people can't be together because of their races. It gets tiring! I don't think we live in a so called Post Racial Society like everyone thinks, but I do think race is a silly thing to keep people apart these days. I'm glad that was left out! This story was really about two friends who are probably falling in love for the first time.  I reallllllly related to Bijou in terms of culture. My parents are from the Caribbean(Cuba) so I know how Caribbean culture can seem really foreign to American kids. I think what made me pick up the book in the first place, ya know other than the cover, was that I haven't read many books featuring black girls that didn't have American parents. I feel extremely close to Haitian culture because my boyfriend of 7 years is Half Colombian/Half Haitian, so part of me picked this book up thinking, this author is probably goina get Haitian girls all wrong. But this book really impressed me. Bijou was so confident and didn't let anyone get her down even though many girls tried to. And Alex, he was so rad. Here comes this young white boy who knows nothing about Haitian culture, He even made the mistake of calling her "Asian", which I've heard sooooo many people do growing up, who falls head over heels for this amazing Haitian girl. Alex just reminded me of a real twelve year old boy, he wasn't worried about sex.All he wanted to do was be friends with Bijou, be close to Bijou, be with Bijou. It was nice for a change to read about a girl crazy boy instead of a boy crazy girl. His voice was really realistic but I think the thing I liked most about him was his interest in her culture. Sometimes when you date inter-culturally, you find some people don't really care about the great things you grew up with because they never had customs like that of their own. So culture isn't a big deal to some Americans, because they solely identify with being American. I've dated many guys who weren't interested in my culture and guess what? We didn't work out because my culture is everything to me so if someone can't take an interest in that, how are you ever going to work as a couple? I liked how diverse this book was, i mean it was set in Brooklyn, so it better have been diverse! Most of Alex's friends were people of color, which i thought was really cute. It made Alex seem really unknowledgeable about her culture because they seemed to know a little bit about it. His best friends were Japanese American(and thank god he didn't fit the stereotype of young asian boys) and Dominican American, which i was surprised about because I hardly read any Dominican characters in books.Just Mexican, which i don't have a problem with but Latino isn't an umbrella term for Mexican. And then one of the popular girls at their sister school(they went to a religious private school)was a black Dominican, cool right? This book scored really well in terms of diversity for me. If the market for this book is 5th through 8th graders, I'm glad to know that a young kid would read it seeing the world how it should appear to the whole world, Diverse. Even though this book is a Middle Grade book, anyone who likes a cute love story especially an interracial story would really enjoy this book.If you saw A Bronx Tale and liked that movie, You would love A Song for Bijou
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OMG!!!! This was a great book. I am y 11. At first i thought this book would be too mature for me. But suprisingly it was not. I am looking for books about school crushes.. stuff like that. GREATEST BOOK EVER
MI_Reader More than 1 year ago
First, I would like to mention that this is definitely for the upper middle grade set. Much of the book focuses on Alex, a seventh grader, and the huge crush he has a new girl, Bijou. Some of the emotions might be a bit much for 8-10 year-olds to understand.  This is definitely a unique concept and plot that I don't think I have read lately in a middle grade. Showing first love and how that grows and evolves, especially in the light of a multi-cultural relationship, makes for an interesting, fun read. I enjoyed seeing the characters grow, especially as they learn how to deal with those who aren't as open to other cultures and ideas. I think both boys and girls would like this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a great book even though it maybe racist at times i love it. My favorite part is..........