The Days When Birds Come Back Summary and Reviews

The Days When Birds Come Back

by Deborah Reed

The Days When Birds Come Back by Deborah Reed X
The Days When Birds Come Back by Deborah Reed
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2018
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

An emotionally searing novel of second chances from an author whose "gorgeous and wise prose" (Cheryl Strayed) will stay with you long after you're done

June is in transition, reeling from her divorce, trying to stay sober, and faced with a completely stalled career. She returns to the beautiful Oregon coast where she grew up, and must decide what to do with her late and much-loved grandparents' charming cedar-shingled home, a place haunted by memories of her childhood.

Jameson comes highly recommended to renovate the old house to sell, and from their first contact, his curiosity is piqued by June. He too is unmoored as he struggles to redefine his marriage in the aftermath of tragic loss, and over the course of the summer, his conversations with June about the house quickly turn to the personal — of secrets hidden in walls and of stories from the past half-told. Sensing connection, June and Jameson can't seem to stop circling each other, shying away from hurt. But what can the future hold as long as they are gripped so firmly by the past?

Brimming with empathy, The Days When Birds Come Back, like the house itself, is a graceful testament to endurance, rebuilding, and the possibilities of coming home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Reed shines with a light hand and direct storytelling, but her characters are what make this novel move - their vulnerability, imperfect recovery, and endearing loss for words." - Booklist

"Though the plot leans a bit too heavily on coincidence, this is an emotionally satisfying novel about the lingering effects of trauma and how people deal with guilt." - Publishers Weekly

"Two strangers, each harboring guilty sorrow over past losses, offer each other solace in this introspective novel from Reed." - Kirkus

"Author Deborah Reed (Things We Set on Fire) plies the reader with beautiful sentence after beautiful sentence. Her descriptions of coastal Oregon's trees and wildlife are as lush as the landscape itself. But these lovely words aren't strung together with more regard for the individual than the whole. In Reed's capable hands, they are building blocks of a story that will capture readers' imaginations." - BookPage

"In Reed's achingly exquisite latest, two scarred-by-life souls - a divorcee and a man toppled by tragedy - hide from their pasts by together renovating an old Oregon house. About the love we've lost, the mistakes and secrets we're afraid to reveal, and a haunting reminder that second chances aren't just given - we have to be brave enough to earn them. A blindingly beautiful book." - Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Cruel Beautiful World

"The Days When Birds Come Back haunted me every day I read it, and has continued to ever since. I don't believe I've ever read such an exquisitely painful story that has on a daily basis so affected the way I interact with other humans, especially my dearest loved ones. This is a novel that makes me want to pay better attention." - Bonnie Nadzam, author of Lions and Lamb

"The Days When Birds Come Back is a gorgeous meditation of the importance of paying attention to one thing in particular: the indelible map our past creates. Whether by adopting a child, restoring a home, or by acknowledging a love that deserves it, Reed has reminded us that we can only fully claim our lives when we embrace our history." - Laura Pritchett, author of The Blue Hour winner of the PEN USA Award

"Deborah Reed's story of two people struggling to integrate past pain with a tantalizing future is as misty and heart-stopping as the Oregon coast itself. And in the wonderful, difficult June Byrne, she has created one of the most complex and relatable portraits of a recovering alcoholic in memory." - Kristi Coulter, author of Nothing Good Can Come from This

"A haunting story of love and loss, the days when birds come back is the kind of book that you sink into on the first page and don't want to leave. Deborah Reed's characters are both flawed and sympathetic, and their struggle to make terms with the past gives this novel a wonderful urgency." - Jane Delury, author of The Balcony

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Reader Reviews

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Patricia W. (Homewood, AL)

Excellent writing!!
This is a wonderful book. Although the main characters are working through grief, their healing is phenomenal. The story reminds us to look at the small things in our days for joy, such as watching a bird take a bath in a makeshift birdbath or a baby seal napping on the shore until the tide returns him to his mother. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and it is not through any of their fault. Life can change in an instant. It's not what happens to us, but how we live through it and how it affects our lives and those who know us. From feeling alone and hopeless, we can learn that we are not the only ones who have suffered loss and with time, things do change and hopefully it is better..

June is trying to survive a drinking problem and divorce when she returns to her home after the death of her grandparents. When she hires Jameson to help her to restore their home, the story begins to build. Between the two of them there is a world of heartache, but as they begin to open up to each other they begin to see a hope and healing take place. While there is an attraction, too, Jameson is married and still in love with his wife. He is just not sure he can be what Sarah Anne desires from him.

I would recommend this book to book clubs. It has a lot of discussions ready for review.

Rosemary S. (Somers, NY)

Enjoyable, Easy Read by an Excellent Author
This book surprised me in many ways. First, I read the book without looking at the synopsis on the back cover so had no clue what it was about or what to expect. There were times I thought one of the characters might turn into a very dark, crazy, evil person. The next minute I would be enthralled by the empathy and compassion of the same character. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to keep reading until everything would be revealed. I liked the way the chapters went back and forth between the two main character's lives . Each chapter gave small hints that there was much more to learn about their past with possible hidden secrets. I loved her descriptions of the Oregon coast and wildlife intermingled in the chapters.

This book is about rebuilding and reshaping a life after the unthinkable happens. It is heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking. I highly recommend for adults and book clubs. I know I will be checking out this author's other novels.

Dorinne D. (Wickenburg, AZ)

Learning to Live with Tragedy
What an interesting story! Deborah Reed beautifully describes the Oregon coast. I loved the character development of June and Jameson. Their personal tragedies and their individual difficulties in dealing with these tragedies were so elegantly imagined by the author. The story felt very real; you as the reader could almost feel their pain. I am interested in the other three books this author has written.

Mary H. (Ocala, FL)

A Jewel of a Novel
This is a beautifully written book--exquisite in its sense of place and understanding of the flaws in human nature. Both the title and initial poetry reference refer to Emily Dickinson's poem "Indian Summer" which speaks of the birds coming back to "take a backward look." Indeed, this is exactly what the two main characters do to try to understand how they came to places of such sorrow and dysfunction in their present lives.

The author unfolds the novel by moving back and forth in time. As we get to know June and Jameson in the present, their backstories are released bit by bit until the reader is shown the entire picture. This is a tale about how people become broken and how they get through the arduous process of healing. It is one of the most beautifully crafted novels I have read in a long time.

Barbara H. (Thomasville, GA)

A tale of grief and life...
We all handle grief differently and we all get beyond it differently - although some of us may take longer or may never get beyond our grief. Thus Emily Dickinson's opening epigraph in this lovely new book by Deborah Reed: These are the days when birds come back, A very few, a bird or two. To take a look.....

Even though this book is so filled with the sorrow of the characters it is also filled with so much life. The vivid detailing in the landscape surroundings is as soulful and beautiful as the main characters - June and Jameson. I only wished for more development on June's father to better understand what occurred and why - but considering June was only seven when she lost him, it was apparently as foggy for her as for the reader. I could not put this book down and relished every page.

A wonderful read!

Molly B, Hygiene, CO

Mistakes, Flaws and Redemption
This book is filled with pain and mistakes and examples of how to live honestly and well, as well as badly and without truth. The characters are flawed and fascinating and frustrating. There are no wasted words, not on the part of the characters, nor by the author. It was a fast and easy read, which was slightly disappointing because I wanted more. That's a great thing from a marketing perspective, because I will definitely look for her previous and subsequent works. All in all, smart, cool, current writing, with a satisfying ending.

...16 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Deborah Reed

Deborah Reed is the author of four novels: The Days When Birds Come Back, Olivay, Things We Set on Fire, and Carry Yourself Back to Me. She has also written two popular thrillers under the pen name Audrey Braun.

Deborah holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing and is co-director of the Black Forest Writing Seminars at the University of Freiburg in Germany. She teaches creative writing at workshops around the U.S. and in Europe.

She lives on the coast of Oregon. Visit her at deborahreedwriter.com

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