book reviews

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner {a book review}

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book. These are my honest thoughts.

This book wasn’t what I was expecting. At all.

Yet, it was still beautiful and deep and touched every emotion inside of me.

When I first heard about this book, I was thrilled that I had finally found a Vietnam story. Only, it kind of isn’t. It touches on the Vietnam War, but it doesn’t show the war itself. In fact, it never actually steps one foot into that country.

That was disappointing.

However, I’m a sucker for an emotional adoption story, so this little birdie wriggled its way into my heart once I found my rhythm with the three time periods, all of which were written in first person. That took some getting used to, but I’m glad I stuck with it. The story was so amazing. Little Minh was so adorable! I couldn’t get enough of her, truly. The emotional punches and tension-filled adoption story reminded me so much of Susan Schoenberger’s A Watershed Year, a favorite book of mine that I’ve read at least three times already. If you love that one, you’re going to absolutely want to find a copy of this one… and vice versa.

I’m still not sure what I think of the ending of each of the three storylines. There was resolution in some ways, but so much was left open… but I think it was in a good way. I need to mull it over more and possibly give it another read or two before I fully make up my mind.

Y’all, tears were shed at multiple points during this story, especially in the back third. Have tissues handy if you’re a weeper like me! I love it when a book gets in my heart so much that I feel personally invested to the point of waterworks. It’s a beautiful moment, to cry over an exquisite yet heart-wrenching scene.

May I just say, I loved the Froot Loops lady. Goodness, but I wanted to jump up and give her a one-person standing ovation. Between Linda and her, that bully stood no chance of having the final say-so. I love it when characters stand up to bullies and let them know it’s not okay to treat people like that. I was glad to see that a random stranger was willing to step into the fray for her fellow human being.

Speaking of bullies, it was hard for me to like Hilda in the beginning. I understood her pain and where she was coming from, but it was still so hard to read her rudeness and hate. At about the halfway point, I realized that I actually was appreciating her scenes a little more. I couldn’t really say I ever liked her, but she did grow on me to the point where I got emotional over certain parts of her journey. She had a pretty good arc, even though heart changes weren’t exactly a big part of it. I would have liked to see more growth in her, but the way her story ended up was completely realistic. I can’t imagine it any other way unless she learned more forgiveness, compassion, and acceptance along the way. And maybe she did in her own way. She wasn’t exactly a touchy-feely type that would outwardly express her feelings much, so at times she was a tough one to get a good read on.

One moment did dock a star from my rating. It took no more than a half page, but, for me, that was a half-page too long. A curse word was used right on the page. Not only that, but it was belabored when two different characters made a big deal out of it: “Never in my life had I heard an old lady swear” from one and “seemingly unfazed by the curse word” by the other. I was disappointed in this whole moment. It served no purpose for the overall story arc and, in fact, interrupted a very important scene in the plot. It felt very out of place for multiple reasons.

Just a quick note about the cover: While I adore the simplicity of the cover as well as the beautiful sparrow perched on a branch, that blurry title font has got to go. It nearly gave me vertigo every time I looked at it. The color scheme was beautiful, though. I really cherish book covers with such eye-pleasing colors and images as this one has.

Still, this was a really good book that I will likely read again. A solid four stars, for sure.

Content: replacement expletives, replacement profanity, tobacco, drugs inferred once, alcohol, expletive, gambling (included a teenager)


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