Review: The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen

Title: The Bird Sisters
Author: Rebecca Rasmussen
Pages: 290
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: April 12, 2011
Publisher: Crown
Source: Personal Copy

Now that the Memorial Day weekend has passed, summer has officially begun for me. During the long, hot, and lazy days of the season in the south, a cold glass of lemonade and books like The Bird Sisters are what keep me going. I couldn't help but picture myself roaming around a quiet peaceful farm observing nature undisturbed. Such a wonderful image! I finished this book a couple of days ago, and I have been trying to write a review ever since. It is almost impossible to do any justice to a book that surpassed my expectations, but I will try anyway. As I wrote in my post yesterday, this book definitely belongs in every one's beach bag!

The Bird Sisters begins in the present day on the farm owned by sisters Milly and Twiss in Spring Green, Wisconsin. A stranger has brought an injured goldfinch to the women, who have garnered a reputation among the locals as bird healers, in the hopes that the bird can be saved. Unfortunately, the goldfinch does not survive, which results in an afternoon spent reminiscing about the summer of 1947. The summer that changed both their lives forever.
Once a bird had lost his ability to fly, not much else could be done in the way of mending him. Losing a wing was a little like losing a leg and the freedom of movement, of spirit, it granted you; most people could live without the former but not the latter.
From the beginning, we know that the two sisters end up living together as spinsters in their childhood home. The real question lies in how they came to be in this position. Finding the answer to this question is exactly what kept me turning page after page. Through chapters that alternate between the past and the present, Rasmussen eloquently tells the story of a small town family who is forced to face many challenges throughout that fateful summer.
If in marriages disagreements were like roots, their mother and father’s were like the roots of the oak tree in the backyard that had grown into the house instead of away from it, cracking the foundation and setting the floors aslant.
Bordering on being an absentee father, Joe spends his days at the golf course trying to recapture his dreams of fame, while his wife Margaret begins to regret her marriage. This tumultuous relationship is further agitated by the arrival of Twiss and Milly's cousin Bett who brings her own set of issues to the mix. I don't want to give much more away, as I think the unfolding of events is what makes this novel so beautiful. However, I will say that the trials that Milly and Twiss endure are a testament to the strong bond between sisters. They must make decisions that have lasting consequences, but support each other through everything.
A bird’s wing, though it contained several distinct bones, functioned as though it contained only one. You couldn’t fiddle with even the tiniest bone without repercussions in the larger ones.
The Bird Sisters is full of beautiful, heartfelt prose and unforgettable characters. Rasmussen expertly weaves the multiple layers of this bittersweet, character-driven book. The bird symbolism was there, but it was very subtle. I always appreciate an author who assumes that readers are astute. Overall, this coming of age story was about how these two sisters deal with a loss of innocence, and their resilience even when their dreams fail to come true.

Now, a review of this wonderful book would not be complete without mentioning how great author Rebecca Rasmussen is. She is so supportive of her readers and book bloggers, and it definitely comes across as genuine. She has her own blog and has a very active presence on Twitter. I've never had the opportunity to interact with an author in such an informal way, and I definitely think this added to my reading experience. I very much look forward to her next book!


  1. I have been hearing a lot of good things about this book, and though I hadn't thought about picking it up before, after reading your review I have reconsidered. I also think it's neat that Rasmussen is so accessible and that she connects with her readers so readily. It sounds like she, and the book are really wonderful!

  2. Wow, your review makes this book sound fabulous, and it's always nice to support the work of an author who is so pleasant to deal with.

  3. You are such a sweetheart! Thank you for writing such a lovely review honey! XOXOX

  4. I really, really want to read this book!

  5. I cannot wait to read this -- I have an ARC waiting -- and your review has me doubly excited now.

  6. I am still on the fence about this one. I guess the plot just doesn't jump out at me.

  7. I don't think I would have ever picked this out on my own, but your review makes it sound so good. Thanks!

  8. I finished this last night and thought it was great! Rasmussen's writing is beautiful and the story is heartbreaking.

  9. This does sound like the perfect summer read - I'm adding it to my list of books to check out while I'm in the States.

    And side note - I am loving the recipes you're posting. I've gotten pretty good at making reasonable substitutes in recipes (a lot of common ingredients aren't so common in Macedonia), not sure if I'll be able to manage it for the cappuccino cookies buuut...I may have to try.

  10. Zibilee - The author's openness definitely helped me make the decision to pick this one up. I definitely recommend this one, even if you pick it up from the library.

    TheBookGirl - I was very glad when I realized that I really enjoyed the story. There's nothing worse than loving an author but not caring too much for his or her book.

    Rebecca - Thanks so much for stopping by! It means a lot to know you enjoyed my review. Can't wait for you next book!

    Meg - Pick it up as soon as possible! I don't think you'll be disappointed!

    Audra - Can't wait to hear you thoughts on this one! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    reviewsbylola - I can understand where you're coming from. I wasn't immediately drawn in after reading the jacket copy either. If nothing else, you should definitely pick this one up at the library and see if it sticks once you start reading.

    Diane - Always good to see someone else with such good taste. :)

    Kimberly - Hopefully you'll read it. I really think the cover copy doesn't do the book justice.

    bermudaonion - The writing really drew me in and kept me turning the pages. The story was so much more than what I was expecting. Glad you enjoyed it too!

    Ellen - I hope you get a chance to read it. It's pretty ease/fast so definitely give it a shot. And I'm so glad you're enjoying the baking posts. It's nice to throw in something else that I really enjoy. I can't even imagine having to find substitutes for certain things in other countries...too frustrating! The cappuccino cookies are pretty easy though, so maybe they'd be good to try when you're back in the States (what with our huge and abundant grocery stores.) :)


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