Thursday, August 2, 2012
The Bird Sisters, a Luminous Debut
The Bird Sisters used to have many visitors from near and far, those who had found injured birds and wanted the sisters to fix the broken wings. Milly and Twiss are spinsters, old ladies living in their childhood Wisconsin house, biding their time and anxiously awaiting visitors. Lately, though, there haven’t been many visitors , which leads the isolated sisters to reminisce about their past.
Flitting back to 1947, Milly and Twiss are young teens living with their parents. Their lives are relatively normal until their philandering father crashes his car and somehow loses his golfing skills—a family crisis as he was a Golf Pro. As their parents drift apart, their father starts living in the barn while their mother stays in her bedroom—everything is in a downward spiral. Financially the family is hurting, but their proud mother refuses to accept the family’s new societal status, refusing assistance from the Sewing Society ladies.
Milly is the eldest, the level headed and sturdy sister who loves to bake. Townspeople scrape together flour and sugar just to ensure that her baking skills continue to develop. Twiss is the young wild child, the tomboy, the free spirit. With their absentee father (he stays in the barn all day) and their depressed mother, the sisters have to rely heavily on each other. Despite the house dysfunction, their cousin Bett, older at eighteen, soon arrives to spend the summer with them. Twiss doesn’t understand Bett, who is plain, sickly, and rather unlikeable, but their mother appreciates Bett’s household assistance. In true coming of Age style, by the end of the summer Milly Twiss and Bett will have had to grow up, their future fates decided.
The Bird Sisters is everything a novel should be, and beyond everything a debut novel should be. If only more writers wrote stories as intricate and luminous as this, The Bird Sisters is a Must-read. Reach for this Coming of Age novel for your summer read or as a pick for your next book club.