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The Bird Sisters

3.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,171 Ratings  ·  700 Reviews
When a bird flies into a window in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sisters Milly and Twiss get a visit. Twiss listens to the birds' heartbeats, assessing what she can fix and what she can't, while Milly listens to the heartaches of the people who've brought them. These spinster sisters have spent their lives nursing people and birds back to health.

But back in the summer of 1947,
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Crown (first published April 1st 2011)
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What's the Book You Can't Wait to Read This Summer?
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rebecca Rasmussen
Aug 14, 2010 Rebecca Rasmussen rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Since this is my book, I thought I'd be a little bit cheeky and rate my effort in writing it. I was in graduate school and had just given birth to my lovely daughter Ava Lily. Wow! What a year that was. Thank you everyone for supporting me and The Bird Sisters! I have met such wonderful people along the way who have shown me such kindness. I never realized that it takes a village worth of people to produce a book. That's a lot of pies for me to bake to thank people properly!

Don't be fooled by the pretty cover. This book is depressing as can be. I'm really shocked that it's getting such glowing reviews. Here's how it goes:

When the book opens, sisters Milly and Twiss are old spinsters with the reputation for repairing injured birds. They flashback to their miserable childhoods in which we get a chance to see why they ended up alone.

There's basically no one to like in this book. The girls' father is a golf pro and completely selfish. Example: he buys his wife a club
Apr 22, 2011 Beth rated it it was amazing
I was asked to read and review this novel for a cover blurb, and though I was incredibly busy and tempted to decline because of my schedule, something told me to accept.

And I am so glad I did.

Rebecca Rasmussen writes with evocative prose and a sense of place that is exceptional. THE BIRD SISTERS is a delightful, highly original novel that explores the bonds, wounds, and tender complexities of the human heart. This book is vivid and heartbreaking and wondrous. And it's a bit magical too.
May 05, 2011 Jean rated it it was amazing
I just finished The Bird Sisters. I'm not sure what to write without giving away the plot. The book was moving, sad, funny. I'm in awe of Rebecca Rasmussen - she is a wonderful writer. Milly and Twiss are old ladies who take care of wounded birds. Since you know that they end their lives living together, the author makes you wonder, "What happened?" How did they end up this way? Their story takes you back, chapter by chapter, to the story of the summer when they were 16 and 14 and their cousin B ...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Apr 25, 2011 Melissa Crytzer Fry rated it it was amazing
If you were to strip away the lovely prose, the larger-than-life characters, and the exquisite rural Wisconsin setting of Rebecca Rasmussen’s debut novel, you’d find a simple theme at its heart: a story of truth and consequence.

But THE BIRD SISTERS is not simple; it is so much more. A book that chronicles the lives of two elderly spinster sisters in alternating chapters between the past (1947) and present, the story illustrates the power of choice – that even the smallest decisions can have the
Apr 13, 2016 Jill rated it liked it
Milly and Twiss are known throughout Spring Green, Wisconsin as “the bird sisters” – two elderly spinsters who minister to broken birds and make them whole again. And, in many ways, the birds are a metaphor for who they are. Early on, Milly reflects, “The smartest birds built their nests high up in the trees. Some birds, namely the wood pigeon, the clumsiest architect of all, began building their nests but never finished them.”

The sisters would fall into that latter grouping. At one point in the
Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner)
The story gracefully moves between the present and haunting memories from their childhood. The bulk of the memories take place in the span of the summer of 1947 when Milly and Twiss are teenagers and becomes the turning point to paving the path that leads to where they are now as spinsters. Immediately I was invested in the lives of Milly and Twiss and had such a desire to know how they ended up so alone when it seemed like they had a lot going for them. I think that was the most heart-wrenching ...more
Mar 31, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Karen by: Beth Hoffman
I was first introduced to The Bird Sisters (Rebecca Rasmussen), by a very talented NYT Bestselling author: Beth Hoffman. Beth set my expectations high with her comment, “the prose are some of the best I’ve ever read.”
I had been excited to read to novel for months, the anticipation built with readings from the Author and when UPS delivered the novel I opened it, intending to read ‘only a page or two’ and 100 pages later I realized I had banished the world, dinner would be sandwiches, things left
Apr 12, 2011 Diane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-favorite-read
"Whenever a bird flies into a window in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sisters Milly and Twiss get a visit. Twiss listens to the birds' heartbeats, assessing what she can fix and what she can't, while Milly listens to the heartaches of the people who've brought them. The two sisters have spent their lives nursing people and birds back to health."

Known to most, in the small town of Spring Green, Wisconsin, as "The Bird Sisters", life for these spinster sisters, destined them to always be together. As y
Siobhan Fallon
Aug 04, 2010 Siobhan Fallon rated it it was amazing
The Bird Sisters tells a tale of how the people you love the most in the world are the ones who can most surely destroy you. This is the summer of 1947, when Milly and Twiss try to stitch their parents’ relationship back together again, when their local priest runs off to gamble Church funds in Mexico, when their reckless cousin Bett comes to visit. It is also the summer when their young lives fall apart. The Bird Sisters weaves visual poetry with fierce and lovely language, like young Bett, sti ...more
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Oh my, this was a Wonderful book!! It was the perfect book that came along at the perfect time. I am So Happy that I traded this from the audio that I truly was not enjoying, to the hard copy. I would have missed out on reading so many beautiful parts and being able to reread them, savour them... A beautiful story!!
Feb 25, 2011 Ann rated it it was amazing
There's something really thrilling about finding a book set in the Midwest--this one in Wisconsin--and finding that the author can treat the situations and characters with both respect and a sharp eye toward truth. In "The Bird Sisters" the author does so with grace and authority. I was willingly pulled into Twiss and Milly's modern world and then their past, a past full of secrets and desires and of young girls witnessing their parent's irrevocably flawed marriage.

The sisters are elderly at th
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jayme VA
Jun 25, 2012 Jayme VA rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, src-summer-2012
Twiss and Milly will break your hearts. This is one of the saddest books I've read in a long time.

We start with two old sisters who are known for healing and tending to birds in rural Wisconsin. Alone except for each other, they are the kooky old neighbors the local kids probably think are witches. But how did they end up that way?

We flash back to the girls childhood and teen years and learn about their younger days. A father with big dreams, a mother with arguably bigger dreams, and a life not
May 09, 2011 Hira rated it it was amazing
This book is worth far more than five stars!!! It was imaginative, touching, written with such poignancy that it completely enraptured my heart. A FULL review coming soon! :D
Amy Bruno
May 17, 2011 Amy Bruno rated it it was amazing
Ever eager to try my hand at new authors I quickly snatched up the opportunity to check out the debut novel from author Rebecca Rasmussen and am pleased to report that the story inside is just as lovely as the cover outside.

The Bird Sisters tells the story of two spinster sisters, Milly and Twiss, known as the Bird Sisters in their small town. Their twilight days pass quietly, mostly spent in reflection that old age summons, with the odd person bringing them an injured creature. Twiss tends to t
Apr 28, 2011 MissSusie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
Read This Book!!Enough Said!

Oh ok I’ll add more

You will love these sisters, so close yet so different Twiss has a smart mouth and always seems to speak her mind and Milly is demure and shy and always puts everyone’s needs above her own no matter the cost to herself. Then there is their parents the mother who dreams of Paris and wanting more than her lot in life has given her, and the father who is a golf pro until “the accident” and can’t play golf anymore and moves to the barn. Then there is co
I think the title made me believe there would be magic in this book, something to do with birds. And that is why you don't assume content based on cover.

I enjoyed about half of this story. I liked little Milly and little Twiss, I liked that one summer their asthmatic, insecure, and bullying cousin Bette (is that her name? Bed? Bet? I couldn't tell with the smug-cat-voiced reader)(who also made all the women sound sleepy or stoned, by the way) came to visit while there was also a problem between
Jul 21, 2012 Annie rated it it was ok
I found this book predictable. And for those of you who have read this you might be thinking "Oh come on! You did not!" but honestly, I saw the whole plot unfold before my eyes before I finished the 3rd chapter. I don't want to be a spoiler (really! I do try ;)) but it was like "yeah... read it before. Not surprising." And while it was dramatic and very "real" in ways, it was also, like I said - just not surprising enough for me to be more than "eh" at the end.
Also, I found it pretty long-winde
Anna Motteler
Dec 05, 2010 Anna Motteler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book and for so many reasons. I love the bond between the two sisters, Twiss & Milly. (I also love the choice for the names, extremely unique and it fits them both well, because they both are unique!) This novel wasn't just about the bond the two sisters share, I feel like the main lesson to be learned here was about family & how they have their problems but are sometimes to stubborn to really do anything about them. The book goes back and forth between the past and the pres ...more
May 11, 2011 Grace rated it liked it
Well, it wasn't a bad book. It really wasn't. It kept me reading at an even and enjoyable pace throughout the tale. The sisters were quite endearing, and the description of their home and their small town life rang quite true to me.

But I just don't "get" all the five star reviews I found on Amazon. The fact of the matter is...nothing really happened. I mean, yes, there was a problem the family faced at the end of the book (that's giving nothing away...the dust jacket makes it clear that somethi
Oct 26, 2010 Victoria rated it it was amazing
With characters as round as cherries, exquisite language, compelling dialogue and a story as uniquely beautiful as the Wisconsin countryside, Rebecca Rasmussen swept me in to the life and wonder of The Bird Sisters.

I fell for Milly and Twiss easily, hungered for vanilla drop biscuits, and worried over a little goldfinch. Within pages, I was laughing and crying, eager to learn their story.

Rebecca Rasmussen's debut novel resonates deeply with a profound sense of place and time, and characters bri
Debbie Roberts
Mar 05, 2011 Debbie Roberts rated it liked it
I just got word this morning that I've won a copy of this book from Goodreads.
Excellent! I look forward to reading it.

This is quite good! Sisters Milly and Twiss learn so much about each other and readers who follow their story can't help but become passionately entwined.

P.S. I also adore the book's cover art. Wonderful!
Linda Hart
Mar 22, 2015 Linda Hart rated it liked it
Well written debut novel that is emotionally honest, has some quirky humor, well drawn characters, but is at heart a sad tale about two dysfunctional women.
Feb 25, 2011 Kawaiiwriting rated it really liked it
The silver lining to sadness is that it reminds us to be happy for the blessings in our lives. The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen is like that-- heartbreaking and lovely all at the same time. I received my advance copy of this book through a giveaway on Goodreads, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But once I started reading I was drawn in, entranced, by this story.

Milly and Twiss are known as the bird sisters to folks in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Anytime a bird is injured, they bring it by the
My original review is below so I will just review the audio version of this re-read for bookclub.

Xe Sands truly embodied these two sisters her narration was soft and wistful as these sisters are, her delivery of this beautiful book was spot on. I was very happy I was able to re-read this on audio with the wonderful narrator!

I can’t wait for Rebecca Rasmussen’s new book!

Original Review:

Read This Book!!Enough Said!

Oh ok I’ll add more

You will love these sisters, so close yet so different Twiss has
Mar 17, 2011 Cindi rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I finished The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen a few days ago and I've been thinking about it ever since and what I would write in my review.

I used to know of two old sisters that lived together in their house until they were in their nineties and no longer able to take care of themselves. Their early lives fascinated me and for years I have wondered and imagined how they ended up together and alone. The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen reminds me of those two ancient sisters.

Milly and Twiss
Apr 13, 2011 Cassandra rated it it was amazing
I like stories that are real. Even if the world that the characters inhabit is as far from "real" as one can imagine, I want my characters to be real. I want to believe that I could meet them, have an actual conversation with them, love them, or even hate them. Milly and Twiss are real. And I love them.

Milly and Twiss are the Bird Sisters, old spinster sisters who live just outside Spring Green, Wisconsin. They are known for helping to fix the injured birds that people will bring to their door.
Jen A.
Jan 07, 2013 Jen A. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2013
2.5 stars. I wanted to like The Bird Sisters, I really did. I wanted to fall in love with the charm of a book that can talk about something so directly without almost talking about it at all, but overall I felt like I just had to work too hard at it, and thus didn't really end up liking it at all.

Milly & Twiss are interesting characters, but we really don't come to know much about them as old ladies as most of the book looks back at their childhood, with emphasis on the one summer their cou
Alex George
Jul 07, 2011 Alex George rated it it was amazing
Rebecca Rasmussen came to Columbia, MO to give a reading at the start of May this year, just after her wonderful debut novel was published. I had been speaking with Rebecca for some time on twitter and invited her to make the trip down I-70 from St. Louis to visit. Her reading was exquisite – understated, funny, and full of charm. I bought a book that evening but only got around to reading it some weeks later.

The novel tells the story of two aging sisters, Milly and Twiss, who live in the small
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I am the author of the novels Evergreen (forthcoming from Knopf) and The Bird Sisters (Crown), but I am also a mother, wife, teacher, pie baker, nature swooner, birder, lover of all things old...

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More about Rebecca Rasmussen...

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“Life and death- what paltry words, what tarnished bookends,what unjust summation for drawing breath one moment and failing to release it the next.” 14 likes
“This book I'm reading says if you want to be as thin as a stalk of celery, then that's what you should be eating. I'm not sure I want to look like celery, but I know I don't want to look like a biscuit.” 9 likes
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