Eleanor "Groovy" Robinson loves cooking and plans to go to culinary school just as soon as she's old enough. But even Groovy's thoughtfully-planned menus won't fix the things that start to go wrong the year she turns eleven - suddenly, her father is in jail, her best friend's long-absent mother reappears, and the swallows that make their annual migration to her hometown arrive surprisingly early. As Groovy begins to expect the unexpected, she learns about the importance of forgiveness, understands the complex stories of the people around her, and realizes that even an earthquake can't get in the way of a family that needs to come together.
Kathryn Fitzmaurice's lovely debut novel is distinctively Californian in its flavor. Her rich characters and strong sense of place feel both familiar and fresh at first meeting - and worth revisiting, again and again.
The Year the Swallows Came Early has a wonderfully appealing sense of timelessness... One of the most satisfying elements is Kathryn Fitzmaurice's refusal to tie up all the plot lines. It's a confident thing to do in a first novel, but it works. Readers of any age will know that "they lived happily ever after" is one of the things that makes a fairy tale a fairy tale. (Reviewed by Joanne Collings).
Shelf Awareness, Jennifer Brown.
One of the greatest reasons for being in the book business is to discover a completely original voice. The other is to put that voice into as many readers' hands as possible. This is one of those voices.
With a timeless feel, memorable characters, and vivid writing, Fitzmaurice captures her audience and holds their hearts until the very end.
Fitzmaurice does not completely resolve the family conflicts, but she provides hints that love will conquer old resentments. Ages 9-12.
As in real life, not everything is resolved in the end, and many questions remain, but things have achieved a fragile balance, rather like the ingredients in a delicate sauce. (Fiction. 10-14).
Starred Review. What all readers will appreciate are the beautiful portraits of the characters, young and old, and the way the story delicately weaves its seaside setting into the story.
All my life, the swallows returning every March 19th to San Juan Capistrano, California, has been a symbol of the strength of nature and of how some things never change. Except they do and, what's more, maybe it never happened anyway, or, even worse, we may be responsible when things do change.
For over a century, St. Joseph's Day annually saw the return of the swallows to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, where they would rebuild their nests in the ornate structures. They were preceded each year by the slightly earlier return of the "scout swallows." There is a local ordinance against destroying swallow nests, which are made from mud.
Where the swallows returned from was long a mystery; now it is known that they journeyed 15,000 miles from Goya, Corrientes, Argentina. They took thirty days to make the trip, flying from dawn to sunset, and did not eat or drink during that time.
But, according to a Los Angeles Times story, the swallows did not return in 2009; in fact, they have not come back for some years. The mission bells...
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