Mina and Oscar have been together for ten years. On their wedding night Mina tried to kill herself. After a second attempt in New York, the couple relocate to London for a change of scene. When Oscar is unexpectedly called away, Mina is left to grapple with her demons, alone.
As in her debut...literary darling Buchanan’s newest presents another self-absorbed cast made memorably affecting by real-life challenges—distracted relationships, filial expectations, tiresome careers, and especially mental illness—which consume and debilitate daily lives.
More broadly, it feels as if we are being directed to read the book through a feminist lens ... but Mina’s problems don’t stem, in any immediate way, from the patriarchy ... Building a novel around a depressed character places enormous pressure on the author to compellingly evoke bleak and repetitive mind states. The problem with Starling Days is that Mina’s inner life is fairly banal. She keeps a list of the reasons why her presence on Earth is pointless ... She compares her sorrows with those of children in war zones, and deems herself spoiled ... There are indications that Buchanan is a better writer than this work would suggest ... But they are overshadowed by the novel’s weaker elements ... For readers looking for a 'relatable' tale of struggle and survival – the author includes an encouraging note at the end for those fighting their own darkness – the book offers consolation. For those wishing to derive more literary pleasures, Starling Days may disappoint.
...a gripping, tender, and unsettling look at mental illness. Mina’s impulsiveness and obsessive behaviors, seemingly illogical, are sympathetically drawn. So, too, is Oscar’s desire to run head-on into more stable surroundings, far from depressive disorders and suicidal ideation. Poetic and understated, this nuanced work by Buchanan...also addresses adult-child relationships, the legacy of family trauma, and the challenge of offering unconditional love ... Complex and resonant.