The Bird Sisters is a stunning debut by Rebecca Rasmussen. My laundry piled higher and higher, the garden produce grew wild and I served ice cream for supper, all because I just could NOT put this book down.
Milly and Twiss are spinster sisters who live near the small town of Green Spring, Wisconsin. They are known as ‘the bird sisters’ because they rescue injured birds.
Alternating chapters, the book moves from their current old age back to the summer of l947 when ‘cousin Bett’ comes to live with them.
As children, the sisters were wildly energetic, giggling and hopeful. Twiss reminds me of a tornado twister, touching down here and there with great force then zipping elsewhere just as quickly. Milly is studious, introspective and industrious. She describes herself as, “Full of possibilities. Happy as the corn was sweet.”
Their parent’s marriage was not healthy. Their father loved golf more than his family and their mother regretted giving up her inheritance of great wealth for the poverty and loneliness this marriage offered.
At one point the three girls are swimming in the river when Milly’s swim suit catches tightly on an underwater tree limb pulling her to the bottom of the river.
Twiss, who usually reacts with bullet like speed was immobilized. While Bett rescues Milly, Twiss thinks, “There was the word ‘sister’, and there was Milly. Without Milly, her father’s No, I will nots! and her mother’s Yes, you wills! would seem hopeless instead of hopeful (Milly said that exclamation points meant they still cared). That was one of the benefits of having such a positive sister; together, they made one regular person.”
This line touched me deeply because I grew up in the country with two sisters, one with Twiss’ personality and the other, Milly’s. We did everything together and are still close. I can relate to the sacred bond these women create and the wholeness experienced.
Milly, Twiss and their parents loose hope and motivation to move forward and crawl out of their sad lives. They are much like the injured birds the adult sisters rescue. As the books reads: “Once a bird has lost his ability to fly, not much else could be done in the way of mending him. Losing a wing was a little like losing a leg and the freedom of movement, of spirit, it granted you; most people could live without the former but not the latter.”
The Bird Sisters is a sheer delight for that part of my brain that craves the magic of a beautifully written story. I want to heed you to take your time with this read as the words are delicious . . . but I know you won’t be able to because you will want to find out how Milly saves Bett’s life.
Thank you Roxi for another wonderful review!
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