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The Bird Sisters

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  3,404 Ratings  ·  739 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, Large Print, 373 pages
Published May 28th 2011 by Center Point (first published April 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Rebecca Rasmussen
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Melissa Crytzer Fry
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
May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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!!
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Siobhan Fallon
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jayme VA
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Colleen Turner
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has been a while since I read a book that made me truly sad to see I was nearing its finish. Like some of the classics I read in school, the characters of The Bird Sisters have become a part of the literary landscape of my heart and promise to stay in my thoughts for a long time to come. Their story is filled with hope and sorrow, but also with a resolution that, whatever choices we make in life, it is the choices we make for love that have the potential to make the most impact.

The people of
Ruth Seeley
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really, this is 4.5 rather than 5 stars and would be five were it not for a tiny quibble I'll mention at the end of my review.

This is one of the most assured debut novels I have ever read - there is not one false word, not one false step. Most of the book alternates chapters of sisters Milly and Twiss in the present day and when they were children growing up in rural Wisconsin, although the alternation gets less strict as the novel proceeds. Milly is the pretty one and Twiss, the younger by two
Apr 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Amy Bruno
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
Anna Motteler
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
Melissa Potoczek
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found it to be a surprise read for me. The book was a slow paced read, and not until the the last fourth of the book did it really come together and get interesting. I think that had the story gotten to the part I found interesting and gone from there, with more developed characters and better linkage between the characters behavior at present to the events of the summer past it would have been a five star.
Jan 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alex George
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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...

Thank you for visiting me on Goodreads!

Visit for more info!
More about Rebecca Rasmussen...
“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.” 10 likes
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