Synopsis: Dear Birdy, Princess Birdzilla von MuffinStuff, Keeper of Dreams, Lover of our Fine Feathered Friends, queen of my life and light of my world, I hope this letter finds you well. If you are reading this then I am gone, and sweetheart, I am so sorry.
Chi-town professional Wren Riley is 25 and a rising star in the business world. She can eat a man alive and laugh about it to her girlfriends in seconds flat–and she does, on the regular. Behind the power suits and the flashing, flirty eyes, however, Wren has a secret, vulnerable side. Following a devastating loss and the discovery of a bird journal she and her father made together years before, Wren sets out to seek peace, closure, and something she just can’t name. Is that something tied to the little paper cranes she keeps finding along the way?
Laurence Byrd grew up a lanky Hoosier kid with the good/bad fortune of having the same name as the state’s perennial basketball legend. With a better affinity for dogs than sports or school, he ends up in the Army instead of the Chicago art school of his dreams. Still, his service to our country is something he can be proud of–until an argument with the girl who means the world to him results in a series of events that blows his life apart. With no one left to understand him, black sheep Laurie pours out his heart into letters and drawings he never intends to send–then he folds them into paper cranes that he leaves behind like messages in little winged bottles. He never dreams someone might be finding them.
God damn it, Sylvia, for a few moments I tricked myself into feeling really alive. I cut it off before anyone got hurt, but just for a moment or two, I really thought I might feel something again–something like trust. Something like love. Not the kind of love we had, but something new. Something like hope.
Spoiler alert: Wren and Laurie are going to meet. And when they do, their lives are never going to be the same.
Review: To be quite honest I don’t know anything about ornithology. I don’t know how to tell most birds apart and as a good city girl, I’ve never been birding. That being said, I was scared that this aspect of the book was not going to get to me… I was wrong. Birding is what created links between Wren and her father and, as someone who was raised by her dad, I could totally relate. Also the aspect of the book that evolves around birds is really well handled by the author. You find yourself getting into it as much as you’re getting into the characters and their story.
First of all, I really liked Wren. At first I was scared that she was going to be a bit snobby, especially after she mentioned that she never felt like she belonged in her small hometown. But even though she never felt like she belonged, she also never felt superior. She genuinely felt bigger than Birdseye but as she gets to know Laurie, she’ll also get to know herself and where she truly belongs to. She rethinks lots of her choices throughout the book and I think she did end up asking herself the good questions. It was really interesting to see her change and find herself during the book. I really liked her personal journey, on top of the fact that she is a really lovable character.
You know what else I liked? The fact that Laurie was also a well developed and defined character. He is someone who went through a lot of complicated moments, whether it was when he was on duty or when he lost his fiancée. After his girl’s death, and the death of one of his army pal, he settled with a good amount of guilt on top of his grief. Of course all of these hard times made him a mature and rational man but it’s amazing to see how he slowly starts to let go of all after he met Wren. The struggle of moving on he is living will probably resonate with anyone who ever lost a loved one.
The romance between Laurie and Wren is also very moving. I particularly liked the way the author decided to play it out. Loss, grief, and guilt, are sensible themes and I was really moved by how well Leslea Tash handled them in her story. There was a lot of truth and realness in this book and that’s part of why I enjoyed it so much. Plus, it’s always nice when the storyline stays clear of the usual clichés like crazy jealousy fits, unbelievable misunderstandings, and all that jazz.
The symbolism around birds that rhythms the story also adds a nice romantic and poetic aspect. Between Wren’s love for birds, Laurie whose last name is Byrd, and the paper cranes where he writes letters to his dead fiancée, everything falls into place perfectly. As I said before, all of this is intelligently inserted in the storyline and it has the prospect to move everyone, whether or not you’re into birding end up being irrelevant.
Bird After Bird is a fresh and charming romance that will capture you from the first chapter until the very last. I had an amazing time following Laurie and Wren, and I’ll happily read any future contemporary book by Leslea Tash!