Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book. The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner will release on July 6, 2021 and can be ordered through this affiliate link.
The Nature of Small Birds dives into the dynamics of a family over many generations. Told with three narrators over forty years, Finkbeiner reveals bits and pieces of the story of how the Matthews family came to adopt a “babylift” child from Vietnam and how that child would grow into an adult with lingering questions about what makes her who she is.
My Favorite Character and Why
I loved Mindy, the daughter searching for her origins most, but her parents, Bruce and Linda, were pretty enjoyable, too. Bruce was an aging hippie who saw the world through the eyes and heart of a poet. I loved the Mary Oliver verses he shared so often. I could relate so deeply to Linda’s internal conflicts as a mother.
For me, Mindy stole the show, even though (or perhaps because) she wasn’t one of the three narrators. Readers got to see Mindy filtered through the eyes of her parents and her older sister, but I still felt her pain when she began to try to find out about her Vietnamese family. Susie Finkbeiner did a beautiful job with this subtle character development.
Rating and Rationale:
I wavered back and forth on four or five stars for this book. It was beautifully, brilliantly written. I don’t know that I’ve read anything quite like it in a long time. I think it would be an ideal book club choice because there is so much to discuss.
The only thing that might keep this from being five stars for me is the fact that there was some of the conflict left unresolved. I don’t think that was an oversight, though. I think that was all part of the understated sophistication of this book. I feel like I need to discuss this book with someone so I can really get it.
I’m sticking with my gut and giving this book five stars. I loved that it was never, ever “preachy” and dealt realistically with crises of faith. The facts about birds and the literary allusions sprinkled throughout put it over the top for me!