Book Review: The Bird House by Kelly Simmons

What is true? What is real? What is forgotten and what can never be erased?  In a lifetime of good intentions we all have our share of secrets, regrets, and undiscovered passions.  And digging through old letters, connecting the importance of a ring with something said long ago, really looking at what is around you, well, it can change your entire view of your world.

The Bird House by Kelly Simmons (Washington Square Press) takes the reader on a mesmerizing journey into one woman’s past and beyond in this sparkling and engrossing novel you’ll want to recommend to everyone you know.  The characters are real, the situations at once startling yet believable.  I found myself glad that I couldn’t sleep last night, because that meant I could get back to this novel and read it through to the end. How many novels are good enough for that? After finishing the last page I had that “I just read something truly amazing” feeling. The lingering of images and emotions. The sadness, as if parting from a very dear friend….

Simmons writes of a granddaughter who is brutally honest, and who needs to do a family heritage project with her grandmother.  She takes us into the head of Ann, a seventy-something woman of high intelligence and so-so memory, who skips us back and forth through time. Her past is a life full of promise, then terrible loss and guilt.  In her present, Ann finds her heart being won over by her granddaughter, a child who asks all the wrong questions in just the right way. And Ann finds answers she hadn’t even known she was seeking.

The story is at once heart-wrenching and hilarious.  Ann has a tart tongue and a sharp eye, making her the ideal narrator casting a witty eye on everything from egocentric architects, Main Line Philadelphia elite, the claustrophobic existence of a new mother, the horrors of those tacky birthday party activity joints, and the temptations of a forbidden lover.

The author quickly envelops you with sharp imagery, true tension, mystery, passion and deeply-felt love. Her writing reminds me of Anne Tyler’s: amazingly brilliant, yet so accessible.

So read The Bird House, love it, share it.  Your friends will be glad you did!  Very highly recommended.

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