Maythee's Reviews > The Bird Sisters

The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen
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Jun 28, 12

really liked it
Read from June 21 to 28, 2012

Thoroughly insightful reviews of this book have already been written so I won't address its plot, but rather I'll just add some thoughts about my impressions of the text and what the author has done. It was very refreshing to read a debut novel by a young writer that was free of the typical creative writing workshop traps and frameworks. It avoids being a manipulated text and instead moves with a freedom that echoes its bird trope. I also hesitate to note Rasmussen's age, because "young" doesn't seem the right word since age and what is learned throughout life are such key issues in this book, revealing in particular how youth as much as later age aren't predictable measures of life knowledge or emotional maturity.

As another reviewer mentioned, I truly appreciated her representation of the Midwest. As someone who has been rooted much of her life in the West,I have few experiences with truly understanding how life was and is lived in this part of the country. Rasmussen's representation of both past & present small town Wisconsin life was light-handed and yet rich with subtlety. I felt I "got it" without walking away with a prescribed notion of either.

This same approach was used to develop the characters, although there I found it less satisfying at times. The sisters' characterizations are very effective and their choices make sense and are regretfully poignant. The parents were somewhat less so. I see the echoes of Gasby mentioned about the father and the mother's predictable disappointments given her gender and class status in this era. I also understand how their incomplete commitment to parenthood led to their daughters' inevitable life options. However, I found myself frustrated in their depictions. I wanted more flesh to their characters and the decisions they made. They remained ghostly presences in the novel even when the chapters were focused on their present actions.

That said, I felt the novel most came to life during that last five chapters or so. The writing gained remarkable fluidity in the last section. The sentences were extremely well crafted and their sentiments were often profound. I found myself want to dog ear and underline several of them. Ultimately, Rasmussen pulls off the difficult task of writing a story from an age perspective she wouldn't intimately know and does so with several beautiful thoughts for the reader to take away and ponder.
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Reading Progress

06/21/2012 page 160
53.0%

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