It's About: Milly and Twiss and their parents and a few supporting characters. We enter the story as Milly and Twiss, two old women, try to save their last bird. The bird, brought to them by a harried mother in a minivan full of kids, is unsaveable but the words left with Milly by the harried mother spark a storm of memories for Milly and Twiss. This is a story of love, given and received, or not so much.
I Thought: I do believe this will be one of my best reads of the year. The words are multi-layered and full of so much meaning depending on what of their own memories the reader brings to the story. (How's that for a complicated sentence?) There is the surface read of a family that struggles through the ups and downs of a life not promised to them - disappointments, sadness and tears. There is a read just below the surface of love and how this family is able to give and receive. And then there is a story that can become quite personal to the reader about how love can be so misinterpreted from our first breath to our last. Who of those we love, or don't, have been misunderstood? How can we change our own pattern to better understand the love that we have been given and may not have received?
I love the way the words and passages have been arranged in this story and I want to share a few that will not spoil the story:
Milly knew what people thought: that they were just the weird old sisters who rescued birds, just like the crossing guard was the man with no teeth and the house on Oak Street was haunted and the river bottom was home to people who were missing their limbs and eyes. That was the way with small towns, and there was something comforting about that.
Life and death - what paltry words, what tarnished bookends, what unjust summation for drawing in a breath one moment and failing to release it the next.
Their hearts had broken so long ago now that the injuries done to them felt like an old scar on most days, in that no matter how much time had passed or how much a scar faded, and even though it may have no longer hurt the way it once did, the disrupted layers of skin on the surface never quite regained their former levels of functioning.
"I'd rather die than be like you," Twiss said, thinking I love you.