About the Book: At 34, Scarlet Kavanagh has the kind of homecoming no child wishes, a visit back to family and dear friends for the gentle passing of her mother, Addie, a famous bird artist and an even more infamous environmental activist. Though Addie and her husband, ornithologist Tom Kavanagh, have made their life in southeastern Pennsylvania, Addie has chosen to die at the New Jersey home of her dearest friend, Cora. This is because the Kavanagh's ramshackle cottage is filled with too much history and because, in the last ten years or so, and for reasons that are not entirely clear, even bird song has seemed to make Addie angry, or sad, or both. Now, in their final moments together, Scarlet hopes to put to rest the last tensions that have marked their relationship.
My Review: This is the kind of book that reminds me why I love to read. I read many books, and enjoy most of them, but every once in awhile one comes along that uses something completely unknown to me (bird song and birds in general) to explore familiar life themes and relationships. I love that in a book, because it allows me to learn something and see things through new eyes.
But this book is even more than that. It's so completely gorgeous from it's very unique and beautiful cover to the the prose and rich characters. This story is told in a fragmented timeline, alternating between Addie's field journals and various character points of view and through conversations. But it's the kind of book I didn't want to put down and couldn't wait to get back to, because I needed to revisit these characters and see why their lives had taken the directions they did and how they continued to deal with it.
Exploring family relationships and the conflict between artistic passion and family love, this book takes us deep inside the lives of all three Kavanaghs and by the end I felt I knew these people. I also sort of wanted to go bird watching. Highly, highly recommended.
Joyce Hinnefeld has a pretty fantastic website here. You can read some sample chapters and find a playlist there and everything. Dawn of She is Too Fond of Books has a great post about the cover art at Unbridled Books here.
If you are participating in the Buy Books for the Holidays campaign, I think this book would make a FANTASTIC gift. It's the perfect kind of book to gift, because it is so beautiful in and of itself. But also it's such an enjoyable and touching read, that your recipient is sure to enjoy it. Go buy it now.