Rating: 3.75 Stars
Family secrets, historical setting, and a timeline that spans over several years from different points of view. The story begins in the 1950s but reads more like a contemporary historical fiction than a regular historical fiction. Ms. Gwin drops you into this family without any expectations of what is going to happen. She gives you a raw, realistic story that makes you think and question anything you know about families and decisions that they have to make.
Another point I took from this novel, is the subject of survival. Olivia does what she thinks she needs to do in order to survive a life that she doesn’t really want to be living. Her decision provides her with a temporary, short lived fix. But it haunts her family for the rest of their lives. Her husband and both daughters have to live with the “what ifs” for years on end.
I admired how Grace’s storyline was so out of the ordinary for a typical historical fiction. She was involved in a relationship that would only possibly be something that you would see in the current day, not something in the 1950s although I am sure that it probably did occur. Ms. Gwin’s boldness to give Grace that type of storyline instead of the typical pregnant teen is admirable and greatly appreciated. June carries the burden of her family’s pain throughout her whole life. It almost seems as if she shuns herself for the events that have transpired in her family over the years. Thrown into their family drama unknowingly, is Mae Johnson. She becomes the scapegoat of an unfortunate event involving the child of Grace who ends up in a children’s home.
The appearance of birds in this story provides such beautiful symbolism. They are important characters and they provide important pieces to the settings and storyline.
The ending of the story is not one that is clear cut and I can appreciate that type of ending for this story. It doesn’t work with all novels, but in this case it was perfect. This closure allowed me to use my imagination about what may or may not have happened.
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