Wednesday, October 20, 2010

'Hummingbirds' by Joshua Gaylor (TLC Tour Stop)

Genre:  Fiction

About:(From TLC) Hummingbirds is a wonderfully compelling novel about the intertwining and darkly surprising relationships at the elite Carmine-Casey School for Girls on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where the rivalries and secrets of teachers and students intersect and eventually collide.

Why I wanted to read this book:
  • I was totally intrigued by the dynamics of an all-girls school and seeing it from the male teacher perspective.
What worked for me:
  • Have you ever read a book that you really really liked, but yet you had an incredibly hard time describing it well enough to someone else so that they would be excited about it too?? Yep, this is one of those books.
  • Call me crazy, but about 50 pages into this book I was vividly reminded of the movie 'The Virgin Suicides.' There is just 'something' about this story involving the intimate relationships of girls and the boys/men that they let into their world which made me draw parallels from that movie to this book.
  • I liked the two male characters. Each was very different, yet I felt that they had much in common. I don't want to delve too deeply into their relationship because I truly feel that the reader needs to experience it and draw their own conclusions. I think their relationship is my favorite part of the book.
  • The title is apt and just. I thought the author made great connections between the women/girl's behavior and how a hummingbird behaves. There is also this humming throughout the book of something sinister or bad that will occur.
  • The crushes on the teachers were spot on. I've experienced a few of them myself, even though I never took one as far as some of the girls in this story, I understood that 'secret thrill' of having the teacher look at you in a way that isn't entirely innocent, but it wasn't perverted either.
What you should do before reading this book:
  • Read the P.S. Insights, Interviews, and More...I sometimes like to read this first because I've found that it helps set the tone of the story for me and sort of puts me in the mindset of the author. I loved Gaylord's essay on "Being a Student." I too loved school and learning and had a few great teachers who made an impact on me. For that I will be forever grateful. 
  • A Soundtrack for Hummingbirds- Listen to the songs (but don't read the reasons why he picked them, save that until after you finish the book) that Gaylord's selected as a soundtrack to this book. I've never heard of any of them until tonight and I can honestly say that it made the book even more meaningful for me. In fact, I loved the songs so much that I'm going to add them to my iTouch soon. Reading his thoughts on why he picked each song allowed me more insight into the characters that he created.
Recommend? I would recommend this one to my friends. It's quirky, weird, but yet excellent. The worst thing that can happen is that my friend doesn't like it as much as I did. But the best outcome is that they really enjoyed it and could actually understand why I had such a hard time putting my thoughts into cohesive sentences!!!

My Rating: 4/5

Thank you to TLC Book Tours. for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review.
My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.
They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel.

About Joshua Gaylord

Joshua Gaylord lives in New York with his wife, the Edgar-award-winning novelist Megan Abbott (The Song Is You, Queenpin, Bury Me Deep). For the past nine years, he has taught high school English at an Upper East Side prep school (a modern orthodox co-educational Yeshiva). Since 2002, he has also taught literature and cultural studies courses as an adjunct professor at the New School. Prior to coming to New York, he grew up in the heart of Orange County: Anaheim, home of Disneyland. He graduated from Berkeley with a degree in English and a minor in creative writing, where his instructors included Bharati Mukherjee, Leonard Michaels and Maxine Hong Kingston. In 2000, he received his Master’s and Ph.D. in English at New York University, specializing in twentieth-century American and British literature.
Visit Joshua at his website,

Please visit the other tour stops HERE.

© 2010, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Sounds wayyyyyyyyyyyyy interesting! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

  2. I adore The Virgin Suicides (movie and book), and you definitely got me curious about this one!

  3. Oh I am sold on this one. I actually have some personal connection I can make with students and male teachers, so I am interested in how this plays out in the book. Great review.

  4. Ooh, this sounds good to me! I think almost everyone has had a crush on a teacher at one time, but back in the day we would never have thought of acting on that crush. How times have changed!

  5. Great review Staci! I think you got across why you liked this book so much. I know how tough that can be. I will definitely read this in the future.

  6. I haven't heard of this book before, but I'll definitely be taking a closer look at it after reading your review.

  7. This sounds pretty good, but I need to stop adding to my lists. On Book overload right now :(

  8. So glad you loved this one - I really liked it too. I also didn't know exactly why I liked it while reading but I kind of liked that about the book. Could make for an interesting movie.

  9. Hmmmm... after watching a couple of hummingbirds for three weeks, I am intrigued by this book! Great review.

  10. Weird, oooo just how I like my books now and again :D

  11. I have seen this one around and find it interesting - thanks for the review :)

  12. ooh I LOVE your suggestions on what to do first (read the PS and listen to the songs) - it seems like the perfect way to get into this book!

    Thanks for being on the tour - I really enjoyed reading your review!

  13. This one is so much more than I thought it was. I totally know what you mean when you say you can't put into words what you like about the book!

  14. Great review Staci. I wondered if there would be a connection between the title and the story and how it would work. I also know what you mean about finding it hard to tell someone about a book you loved so much. It's the hardest thing about being a reviewer of books.

  15. Thanks! for sharing , must read.

  16. Oh I totally love that he selected a soundtrack for his book! That is wicked cool.

  17. This book sounds great and its interesting that it has a soundtrack. Glad you liked the songs and it's helpful to know to do that after you read the book!


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