Many thanks to Smith Publicity for providing my free review copy – all opinions are my own.
Fiction. One August morning while walking her dog, high-school English teacher Beatrice Ousterhout stumbles over the dead body of a student, Amber Inglin, who was to play the lead in Beatrice’s production of John Webster’s Jacobean tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi. Barely able to speak, Beatrice calls the police. That is to say, she calls her daughter. Jes is a detective with two years of experience under her belt and a personal life composed primarily of a string of one-night-stands, including the owner of the field in which Beatrice has found Amber. In addition to a house and a field, Child Services lawyer Liam Walsh owns a vineyard, where Amber Inglin, along with a handful of other teens who’ve had difficulty negotiating the foster system, was an intern. Set among the hills and lakes of upstate New York and told in six vibrantly distinct voices, this complex and original narrative chronicles the rippling effects of a young girl’s death through a densely intertwined community. By turns funny, fierce, lyrical and horrifying, BIRDS OF WONDER probes family ties, the stresses that break them, and the pasts that never really let us go.
This is an original and lovely debut with interesting characters and an intriguing plot. The story starts off when a teacher, Beatrice, stumbles across the dead body of the star of a high school play, and it just takes off from there. This is a very character driven story that focuses primarily on relationships and secrets. It is not a thriller by any means, but rather a work of literary fiction with elements of mystery and suspense.
There are six different point of views but the story is told primarily from two perspectives: Beatrice, and her detective daughter, Jes. Beatrice comes off as confused and disorganized and Jes isn’t very kind towards her. I was most intrigued by their relationship as Jes harbors a lot of animosity towards her mother, which in the end, the reason why becomes VERY clear.
One of my favorite aspects of the book are the creative and artistic details from Robinson. From the beautiful birds to the Shakespearean references integrated throughout, it’s these details that make the story unique. I really enjoyed BIRDS OF WONDER and look forward to what Robinson comes out with next.
My rating is 4.5 / 5 stars!
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