The Death of a Jaybird: Essays on Mothers and Daughters and the Things They Leave Behind
by Jodi M. Savage
Reminiscent of The Year of Magical Thinking and Somebody’s Daughter, a deeply empathetic and often humorous collection of essays that explore the author’s ever-changing relationships with her grandmother and mother, through sickness and health, as they experience the joys and challenges of Black American womanhood.
Jodi M. Savage was raised in Brooklyn, New York, by her maternal grandmother. Her whip-smart, charismatic mother struggled with addiction and was unable to care for her. Granny—a fiery Pentecostal preacher who had a way with words—was Jodi’s rock, until Alzheimer’s disease turned the tables, and a 28-year-old Jodi stepped into the role of caretaker. It was up to Jodi to get them both through the devastations of a deteriorating mind. After Granny passed away, Jodi spent years trying to reckon with her grief. Jodi and her mother were both diagnosed with breast cancer nearly a decade later, and then Jodi lost her too.
In this searing, candid collection of essays, Jodi illuminates the roles that identity and memory play in preserving those we love. Jodi explores the lives of modern Black women and communities through the prism of her personal experiences. With grace, creativity, and insight, she looks at femininity, family, race, mental illness, grief, healthcare, and faith. Jodi deftly portrays how trauma is inherited, and how the struggle to break a generational curse can last a lifetime.
The Death of a Jaybird is a thoughtful examination of complicated family love, loss, and the liberating power of claiming our stories.