Title: The Bird Sisters
Author: Rebecca Rasmussen
Release Date: April 12, 2011
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Milly and Twiss are known as the bird sisters - they spend their days tending to injured birds that the local townspeople bring to their house. Old maids, neither chose to marry and so they live out their days in solitude, surrounded by the memories their old house brings back. Lost in the past, the two women can’t help but remember that fateful summer all those years ago when their cousin Bett came to visit for the summer, and Milly thought she might want to marry Asa, and everything changed.
The Bird Sisters is a coming of age story about Milly, Twiss, and Bett - three girls, about to become women, who find themselves overwhelmed by the situations life thrusts in front of them. From the beginning, the reader knows Milly will not marry Asa; after all, she is a spinster who never chose to marry. But why is that the case? What happened to sweet Milly, why did she give up her dream and the boy she loved? Why didn’t Tilly make it happen? These questions will keep the reader interested in The Bird Sisters from beginning to end.
Above all, The Bird Sisters is a character driven novel. Rasmussen writes her characters with such care and detail that they will seem like real people to the reader. Milly was my personal favorite. While Tilly was the troublemaker who seemed to want to cause problems in order to attract attention to herself, it was Milly that was always there to listen or to help when needed. She was the responsible one, the strong one. I knew from the beginning that Milly would experience a great hurt, and as the book progressed, I ached for her. She seemed like a friend who was relating the story of a heartbreak, and I wanted to reach through the book and tell her everything was going to be okay.
The setting of The Bird Sisters was remarkable; not for its unique qualities, but for the vividness with which Rasmussen describes it. Spring Green, Wisconsin comes alive in this book. The amazing descriptions and careful details that Rasmussen writes are wonderful to experience. It’s not surprising that Rasmussen grew up (at least partly) in Spring Green - she describes the town with such love and honesty, it’s clear that part of her heart is there.
The Bird Sisters was an enjoyable debut with impressively drawn characters that I really sympathized with. Milly really spoke to me, and though the tone of the novel is bittersweet, I loved the testament to the relationship between sisters that Rasmussen provides. This author is one I’m going to watch closely; I look forward to seeing what she does next.