Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Bird House by Kelly Simmons (review #113)

The Bird House by Kelly Simmons

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Format: Review Copy
* On sale now online or at your local bookstore
(Paperback comes with reading group guide)

This book arrived in my mailbox on Friday afternoon and I finished it today during nap time. That may sound like it was over the top good and could not be put down. That was not the case. It felt more like it tugged at me, pushing me along, wanting me to know its secrets.

It happen to come right when I finished a book and was deciding on what was next. I'm left with a small ache from the quick time I spent with these characters even though I witnessed their heartbreaking and heartwarming stories.

Told in parts both past (1967-68) and present (Feb-July 2010), it mainly focuses on the voice of Ann, as an elderly woman and as a new mother. She is a survivor of breast cancer and falling victim to Alzheimers. Trying to forge a relationship with her granddaughter, Ellie (daughter to her son Tom), she agrees to help her with a class project entitled Generations. Ellie is to pick an "Aspect" of history in her family and she picks Bird Houses, ones she sees in pictures of her grandfather.

Digging through old pictures and boxes brings memories back to Ann, some she wishes she could forget. Something happened to Ann's daughter, Emma at a young age and you don't find out what that is until the very end. Wrapped up in both her present and past is also Peter, whom she had an affair with at her highschool reunion. And last we have Theo, Ann's husband, sprinkled in and out of her fading memory.

Ann's voice is both sharp and emotional. Her character is deep and full of layers. You get the sense she is a fighter and has been her whole life, even before her marriage and birth of her children. She still is the daughter of the father who abandoned her and the sister to Caro who seemed to have it easy.

This book flowed quite effortlessly in its melancholy mood. It wasn't a book that I would jump up and say I enjoyed. I was quite moved but to stillness and quiet afterwards. It held a bit of sadness, loss, and wanting. It also held joy and a promise of new beginnings especially between Ann and Ellie.

Rating: 4/6
Overall, the story line isn't something overly original. It's a family drama. Mothers struggling with motherhood, fathers leaving their families or simply being absent in their presence, children wise beyond their years and secrets long ago buried that bubble to the surface over time.
But the voice in which she writes this drama is unique. Ann's voice is reflective, somber, bitter at times and peaceful. I respected her and that shows a promise of a good author. I recommend it.

Book Club Pick:
Most definitely. Here is the link for the Reading Group Guide. Many topics arise within these pages; motherhood, obligation, death, memory, infidelity, and legacy.

Author Website:

Happy Reading and as always thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Mystica said...

As you say the story may be one we have heard before but how it is put across is what matters. I think I would like to read this book as well.

StephTheBookworm said...

I've been wanting to read this. It sounds really good.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

My copy arrive this week as well; it does sound good. Nice review Michelle.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Sounds beautiful and sad. Thanks for the review. I like how you pointed out that despite the story not being fresh, the voice is.

Andrea said...

Oh! I got your comment and I KNEW your title sounded familiar! I swear I have been here before, but never got to come back to poke around. I can't read this post as this is one of my next books to read and review, so once I do we'll have to chat about it! :)

Misha said...

I have been dying to read The Bird House.I love family drama!

Anonymous said...

Great review!! I think I liked this because it was the same simple story we here all the time but it was written so beautiful. I love those elderly women stories that take you back to their youth

Heather Lynn said...

Hello I have just awarded you the lovely blog award you can check it out here!

Jenners said...

I like a good melancholy book every now and then. I love when you find a book that just draws you in like that.

Gina said...

You have a knack for picking books with intriguing covers. Love the beauty and simplicity of this one. Sounds like the story though not completely earth shattering still made waves for accomplishment with its quiet ways. Certainly know a reader or two that would be interested in this one....thanks for sharing!