The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Title: The Bird Sisters
Author: Rebecca Rasmussen
Genre: Literary fiction
Publisher: Crown, 2011
Source: Library

Where to begin with a summary of this odd, lovely little story? Milly and Twiss, spinster sisters, are known to care for broken birds. They are a town attraction, old fashioned and delightful. But why did Millie, the most beautiful, kind girl in town, and Twiss, the most adventurous, end up alone in the house where they grew up? The story delicately unfolds as a day in the elderly life of Millie and Twiss and the stories of one fateful summer are interwoven.

I had heard nothing but positivity for The Bird Sisters, but when it came down to opening the book, I had no idea what was beneath that lovely cover (if ever there was a book cover I would want framed on my wall, this would be it. Ms. Rasmussen, I hope you have one framed. You're the only one who can hang it up without feeling weird about it!). It was my book choice for the lake on the fourth of July, and it was perfect. It isn't a typical beach read, full of witty allusions to pop culture and flirtatious romance, but it was just right for the lake. The story had a comfortable, old-fashioned, well-worn feel, just like the tiny town where I have spent countless summers. Reading the book felt like eating blackberry pie - sweet, but not in the processed, synthetic way of a candy bar. It had some substance and nourishment beneath that airy, sugary crust. (I keep using food allusions in my reviews... Symptom of trying to lose weight?) It had a similar feel to some of my favorite books of elementary school, like Tuck Everlasting and Where the Red Fern Grows, but its complexity and the issues it raised were definitely far ahead of those childhood treasures.

In fact, for a moment that complexity was a source of frustration for me. I had to dig deeper, use my brain cells a little more than I was expecting, in order to understand the events. Why would Millie do that? I asked myself more than once. Why is this particular scene being included? But when events are forced to a sharp, painful climax, the actions of the sisters are poignant, beautiful, and heartbreaking.

This novel must be discovered for itself. I could write more about it, try to delineate exactly why the themes of sacrifice, family, and love are so gracefully present, but I would be doing the novel a disservice - Ms. Rasmussen has drawn them in her own lovely style that I can't hope to imitate. Lovely, lovely, lovely. That seems to be the adjective I am most overusing, so we'll end it with that. For a comfort read, an introspective journey into love in all its convoluted forms, and lovely writing, turn to The Bird Sisters.

4 stars


  1. I have only read amazingly glowing reviews on this one - I cannot wait to read it!!

  2. What a lovely lovely review -- thank you so much!

  3. Oh, your food allusions tell a lot about the book:) I will have to check out this book. Great review!

  4. Like Natalie, I've only seen positive reviews for this one. It's been at the top of my wishlist for a while, can't wait to get my hands on it!

  5. I have wanted to read this book since I fell in love with the title and the cover. I too have only read positive things about it. I can't wait to read about it! So glad you loved it.


  6. This sounds so wonderful! Definitely putting it on my TBR list. :)

  7. Wow, that is a wonderful review. How can I not add this to my TBR list now?! And as far as the food metaphors -- I frequently find myself using them when writing about books. Perhaps it is because books nourish the mind like food nourishes the body?

  8. @Natalie - I think you will really love this one!

    @Rebecca Rasmussen - Thank you for writing such a lovely lovely book! Thanks for stopping by the blog.

    @Pepca - I hope you enjoy it! You will "eat it up," haha.

    @Sam - I hope you enjoy it! It is beautiful.

    @Asheley - I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on it.

    @Eva - I think you will really like this one. The writing is gorgeous and you have to tease out the meaning - it isn't apparent right away.

    @Jennifer - YES! This book is like mind-pie (and reading the Princess Diaries is like mind-marshmallows, haha).


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