Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Bird Sisters

The Bird Sisters
Rebecca Ramussen
4 / 5

Published 2011

First Sentence
"Used to be when a bird flew into a window, Milly and Twiss got a visit."
Publisher's Description:
When a bird flies into a window in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sisters Milly and Twiss get a visit. Twiss listens to the birds' heartbeats, assessing what she can fix and what she can't, while Milly listens to the heartaches of the people who've brought them. These spinster sisters have spent their lives nursing people and birds back to health.

But back in the summer of 1947, Milly and Twiss knew nothing about trying to mend what had been accidentally broken. Milly was known as a great beauty with emerald eyes and Twiss was a brazen wild child who never wore a dress or did what she was told. That was the summer their golf pro father got into an accident that cost him both his swing and his charm, and their mother, the daughter of a wealthy jeweler, finally admitted their hardscrabble lives wouldn't change. It was the summer their priest, Father Rice, announced that God didn't exist and ran off to Mexico, and a boy named Asa finally caught Milly's eye. And, most unforgettably, it was the summer their cousin Bett came down from a town called Deadwater and changed the course of their lives forever.

Rebecca Rasmussen's masterfully written debut novel is full of hope and beauty, heartbreak and sacrifice, love and the power of sisterhood, and offers wonderful surprises at every turn.
Dear Reader,

This was a sweet little novel about two old sisters who have lived together all their lives.  They are known as the "Bird Sisters" because they can be called upon to doctor any injured bird that is brought to them (albeit with varying levels of success).  They are known throughout the area as slightly eccentric but sweet women who have simply always lived where they do, treating birds and serving teacakes.

However, their history has much more depth than one might imagine.  The story of their lives and how the two ended up spinsters together is quite a complex tale of family, love, loss, joy, and heartache - at many times, all at once.  The book takes place in the late 1940s, and follows the story of the two sisters - Milly and Twiss - and their slightly-off-kilter family, the land upon which they live, their colorful neighbors and townsfolk, and - most importantly, and most life-changing - their cousin Bett, who comes to visit for one fateful summer.

The story switches between the perspectives of the two sisters, and slowly unravels the mystery behind why they lean so heavily on each other in old age.  This book is chock full of vibrant and memorable characters, from the minister who leaves his flock to seek out drink and gambling, to the bitter snapping turtle who lives in the nearby lake.  All of these larger-than-life personalities clash with one another at various points, creating the backbone behind the story of Milly and Twiss.  While I can't call this a favorite, it's a book I am very glad I read and that I know will stick with me for a long time to come.  Those characters which Rasmussen introduces you are certainly unforgettable!

Happy reading,
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