To be released – March 15, 2015
Nightbird by Alice Hoffman is about a twelve year old girl named Twig, who lives with her mother in the small town of Sidwell, Massachusetts on the only apple orchard to have Pink apples. Twig’s mother is a beautiful, but sad woman who spends most of her days cooking Pink apple pies and other treats with their family’s secret recipe. Twig, is a tall, awkward girl who earned her nickname because she is so good at climbing. Unfortunately, Twig is very shy and doesn’t really have any friends, but not entirely by choice. Twig’s family has a secret. 200 years ago a witch by the name of Agnes Early put a curse on Twig’s family causing every male born to be born with wings, but that’s not the end of the secret. Twig has a brother who is about four years older than her named James. For obvious reasons, James is kept from the town, locked up in a room where he spends his time exercising (usually by balancing on things like a tightrope) and studying, in which he is very adept.
Twig’s life in Sidwell is fairly quiet and simple, until one day when people start talking about a bird-human monster that sneaks around town and steals from houses, which puts the life of Twig’s brother, James, in danger. Just when Twig thinks she will always be alone, a family moves in next door. Twig first meets Julia and Agate when she falls from a tree she was climbing and sitting in, the two girls (12 and 16) called for their father who just happened to be a doctor and soon Twig finds herself at the hospital with a fractured arm. From then on, Twig finds herself hanging around the sisters more and more, much to the disappointment from her mother. She then tries to distance herself from the sisters claiming that if she gets too close to them, they will invite her over and then wonder why she does not invite them over, which she cannot do for fear of James being discovered. During all of this, bright blue graffiti is being found all over town with the phrase DON’T TAKE OUR HOME AWAY.
The rest of the story involves the adventures of Twig and Julia as they try and piece together who is leaving the mysterious messages and how they can lift the family curse.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. It was different and cute, but it was without a doubt not a book I would read more than once. Throughout the book, I found just tiny idiosyncrasies that for some reason bothered me, such as the “inside joke” between Julia and Twig with the word perfect. I thought it was cute to begin with, but after so many times it began to wear on me. Next, there were parts where I found the book was dragging on a little, even though it’s a short 200 page book. Overall, I would recommend this book to people that are willing to not have a lot of action and aren’t turned off by slow reading at times.