Customer Reviews for

The Bird Sisters: A Novel

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Great book discussion choice!

A wonderful story about two sisters and the lives they have chosen or end up with. Makes you wonder what might have been. It is also an interesting look at the interconnectedness of lives and how they all come together to influence one another.

If you read it be s...
A wonderful story about two sisters and the lives they have chosen or end up with. Makes you wonder what might have been. It is also an interesting look at the interconnectedness of lives and how they all come together to influence one another.

If you read it be sure you have a friend to talk about it with.

posted by TriciaM on March 5, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Excellent characters, average story line.

The characters were extremely well written and I enjoyed and connected with them very well. It was also very easy to visualize the venue. The story itself lacked continuity and felt unfinished.

posted by jily on February 15, 2012

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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great book discussion choice!

    A wonderful story about two sisters and the lives they have chosen or end up with. Makes you wonder what might have been. It is also an interesting look at the interconnectedness of lives and how they all come together to influence one another.

    If you read it be sure you have a friend to talk about it with.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2012

    Unique

    The Bird Sisters is one of those books that one reflects on often after reading it. Aging, love, and devotion are keen topics. It was a book for our book club and I look forward to discussing it. The back of the book has some great ideas of discussion questions. The book is set in Wisconsin; about an hour from me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Loved It!

    This story of two aging sisters living together...was a very satisfying read....the sisters come alive through the past which is slowly revealed...the reader gets to know them through the past and present

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2013

    Great story.

    Great story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2014

    Beautiful story

    Awesome book
    Emotional great read

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  • Posted July 2, 2012

    Uncommonly Lovely

    "The Bird Sisters" is one of those small, quiet gems that you hope to stumble upon a few times in your reading career. Written in delicate prose, the story documents the lives of two sisters who have lived side by side into their old age, along with the remnants of childhood they never quite detached themselves from. Twiss, the rough and tumble tomboy, her cup runneth over with spunk, is the bird healer, while Milly, beautiful and startlingly insightful in her views of her small, contained world, is the listener. Though different, they are bound by something far more than just sisterhood--it's a bond of early tragedy, of lives spent in the calm and compact by choice and, in some ways, necessity. They understand the purpose of giving up for gaining. The novel is written in their shifting points of view, both in old age and youth.

    When their unusually sharp and inexplicably charismatic cousin comes to town, the two girls are not only first-hand witnesses to the extent of human weakness, but also the give and take quality of life, the choices one is forced to make, the consequences that follow any choice, and the persistence of memory. They, along with the rest of the characters, are taken by their cousin's odd mix of world-weariness, clever observations, and aloof manner.

    This novel is about how all of our parents are subject to mistake, and will, in time, disappoint us no matter how much love is between a family. How none of us are perfect, or nearly perfect, and we must find forgiveness anyways. It's about how good people are capable of awful things, and that to judge right and wrong is placing the world into two, restrictive and impossible dimensions. Lastly, it's about love, the the variations and revisions we must go through in order to secure some semblance of it, and the words that must be said and never mentioned in the first place. It's about a sisterly understanding that goes without saying, a birth promise.

    It's soft-spoken just like Milly, but there's a palpable spine made up of small, heart-breaking truths that anchors the story for the reader. And it's also a wonderful documentation of life lived not in a grand city or foreign land, but in a small town in Wisconsin. It's unimposing and deeply important. Where two sisters--a beauty and a wild thing--both learn to give up something in exchange for peace--something neither of their parents were ever able to achieve. Where Bett, an intelligent young woman, full to the brim with cynicism and the desire to live up to her imagined adulthood, trades in real character for easiness with disappointingly childish simplicity. Parents don't always have the right answers, and sometimes, they can't seem to find any at all.

    This novel is about something far more than the token happy ending. "The Bird Sisters" traces the importance and magnitude of decisions, what we owe and do not owe to one another, the lovely aspect of what bittersweet really means, and how we eventually must learn to live with our choices in order to find that illusive thing called happiness.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2011

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    Sometimes you don't get what you want, you get what you need

    The Bird Sisters. An intriguing name for Rebecca Rasmussen's critically acclaimed and much-beloved debut novel. What does it mean? Who are these sisters? Creating a beautiful metaphor for her two lead characters, Milly and Twiss, Rasmussen unveils a portrait of unconditional love. On the surface, these two elderly women are known in their small Wisconsin town as the healers of injured birds. But on a deeper level, as the summer of 1947 is revealed via flashback, an understanding and appreciation of their utter resiliency becomes apparent. They each carry their own internal wounds and scars, and the only balm they find is in each other. The other's presence is the sole elixir that alleviates the pain and loneliness of their quiet, isolated existence. They are kindred spirits to the nth degree - two halves of the same tortured soul.

    Of course, their present condition is the end result of their parents' actions. A beautiful, but frustrated, mother. A jaded, cyncial father. A crumbling, distant marriage. Things weren't always like this, but in 1947 when their father gets into an accident and loses his job, despair takes hold of the entire family and never lets go.

    Milly is a shy, yet natural, beauty. She begins to attract the attention of Asa, the son of a neighboring farmer. She is a quiet, gentle soul full of grace and dignity. Twiss, on the other hand, is a helter skelter tomboy roaring with energy and mischief. She bases her life around honesty and says what's on her mind. She expects people to be straight with her, and demands the truth, no matter how hurtful it may be, when they are not. Ultimately, Twiss yearns to get out and see the world, while Milly wants a family she can devote her entire life to.

    Rasmussen has a deft touch for creating a pitch-perfect setting for the novel. You can feel the sun on your face as the girls float arms outstretched in the local swimming hole. You can smell the freshly cut grass behind the wheels of Asa's lawn tractor. You can see the light on in the barn where their father keeps his solitary vigil. You can hear the lure of the carnival barkers at the country fair. You can taste the sugary icing on Twiss' cake. The imagery is pure, down home comfort.

    But it is not enough to keep the family in tact. Through an act of betrayal, it is up to the self-sacrifice of the sisters to set right a grievous wrong. They are both denied the lives they have dreamed about. Instead, they are left to pick up the pieces and band together under their shared sense of solidarity and loss. They gave up everything for the sake of preserving the dignity of others. They made the hard choice, and accepted the consequences of what came with it. All that remains for them, is the love that they have for each other. And even if it is not enough, it is what ultimately sustains them even as they enter their final years.

    Overall, sometimes you don't get what you want, you get what you need.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2011

    A wonderful story!

    I can't say enough good things about this story. The writing is outstanding and I did not want it to end. From start to finish the author has developed the story and it never loses anything throughout the book. For many authors this is not true. I've read some great books, but toward the end the story doesn't hold together. I anxiously await her next book. Rebecca Rasmussen is a special class of writer.

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  • Posted June 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully Written Debut!

    The first time I learned of this book, I was excited. After reading the little blurb about it, I was even more excited to learn it took place in Spring Green, Wisconsin, which I am somewhat familiar with. I have visited there many times and it is an excellent place for a novel to take place.

    Milly and Twiss are elderly sisters who live together in the home in which they grew up. They are known as the Bird Sisters. People bring injured birds to them where Twiss does what she can to heal them while Milly listens to the people that bring the birds to them. When a goldfinch is brought to them, Twiss remembers the summer of 1947, the summer that changed their lives drastically with a visit from their cousin, Bette. The chapters alternate between the present day and the summer of 1947. Milly had her future all planned out right down to the names of the children she planned on having. Twiss, who was a spunky tomboy was happy to be on the golf course with her father and she really didn't think much about the future except that she couldn't imagine life without her sister. We know the two ladies end up living together in their golden years but we don't know how or why they got to that point until we learn of the events of that dreaded summer. The town is full of an array of wonderful, quirky characters. I fell in love with many of them, while some irritated me much in the same way they bothered the girls. I was very tickled with the mention of The Cave of the Mounds, a tourist attraction I have been too many times both as a child and as an adult.

    Rebecca Rasmussen has a beautiful way with words. The novel is character driven and the prose is simply beautiful. I could close my eyes and see the farm where the sisters lived clearly in my mind. In the end, it is a story of loyalty, love and sacrifice and it is written just beautifully. As soon as that goldfinch was delivered to the sisters I was hooked! This is one book you don't want to miss! This is a book I will reread just so I can visit the sisters again! I can't wait to see what Rebecca will write next!

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  • Posted April 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Must Read!

    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 cousin Bett who comes for the summer, the summer that changes everything. We first meet the elderly spinster bird sisters Twiss is still a curmudgeon and Milly is still sweet however, once you meet the teen sisters you know something drastic happened that caused these girls to become the elderly never married Bird Sister. Of course Twiss has vowed to be the world's most interesting spinster and looks on it with a kind of affection (as Milly puts it). But teen Milly has hope of a marriage and children. I can't say anymore on the story without spoiling it. What I can say is this is a beautifully written book there is no skimming here you will want to read every word, savor it, chew on it and thoroughly enjoy it. You will fall in love with Twiss and Milly smile with them and cry for them. This book has risen to the top of the best reads of the year and it will take a powerful book to knock it off of its perch. Like I said at the beginning Read This Book! Rebecca Rasmussen is a new author to watch out for her writing is so beautiful I look forward to much more from her! 5 Stars

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A wonderful book about the true meaning of love and sacrifice.

    Rebecca Rasmussen weaves a compelling story of love and loss based on her grandmother's diaries from over 40 years. Twiss and Milly are sisters that couldn't be more different. One a tomboy, the other very much a girl. Their parents are going through a strange sort of seperation, and when Bett their cousin arrives from Deadwater, their lives will never be the same.

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  • Posted September 10, 2010

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    An AMAZING book...

    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, sticking her pale arms deep into a beehive and walking away unstung, or a starling, assumed dead, suddenly launching itself out a front door into freedom. Witty and wise, with a multilayered plot and characters so real you'll want to invite them to dinner, The Bird Sisters will both enchant and haunt you. A gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, riveting read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2010

    Beautiful novel with heart!

    I love southern novels and this one is set in Wisconsin, but it has the same heart as my favorites. The writing is beautiful and the sisters, Milly and Twiss, are women I fell in love with as girls and as older women living in their childhood farmhouse in Spring Green, Wisconsin. I was lucky to get an Advanced Copy. I haven't read a book I have fallen completely in love with in a very long time. This book has heart! I've picked it for my book club in the spring! I just adore it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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