A Kansas City Star Best Book of the Year
"I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won't look at them until after I'm gone." This is what Terry Tempest Williams's mother, the matriarch of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah, told her a week before she died.
It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as it was to discover that the three shelves of journals were all blank. In fifty-four short chapters, Williams recounts memories of her mother, ponders her own faith, and contemplates the notion of absence and presence art and in our world. When Women Were Birds is a carefully crafted kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question: What does it mean to have a voice?
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You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!
Some of the recent comments posted about When Women Were Birds:
Empty or silent?
I also agreed with everyone above, I thought that her journals were silent, and not empty. But I think that silence was so much more powerful than her writing could have been. At the start of the book, Terry tells us that Mormon women were expected ... - alexandras
Favorite Quotes from When Women were Birds
My mother came alive for me as I read this book...she spoke to me thro this quote from Mimi... "once at Bud Lake, I looked at my mother's face, and I felt a deep message was inside her. She was staring out at the lake and I guessed she was thinking... - nancy f.
Has reading this book changed your perceptions or perspectives?
I finished reading this book several weeks ago and I'm sorry to say it didn't leave a permanent mark. It is for me, today, like her mother's journals: blank. The quotes I enjoyed most were from others quoted in the book, not the author's. It was ... - joanr
How does Terry's definition of love change throughout her lifetime?
I believe Terry's definition of love changed, as does everyones, thru maturity. The love of a 21 year old is not the same love as that of a 71 yr old. Love grows, deepens and expands as a person is enriched and is able to share. - carolea
How does Terry's relationship with her father compare to your own relationship with your dad?
My father treated me nearly the same as my brother. He did not see gender as an excuse not to achieve whatever I set out to do. We spent a great deal of time pursuing outdoor interests...fishing, gardening, animals. He would have been happy to ... - jww
"Brilliant, meditative, and full of surprises, wisdom, and wonder." - Ann Lamott, author of Imperfect Birds
"Williams displays a Whitmanesque embrace of the world and its contradictions ... As the pages accumulate, her voice grows in majesty and power until it become a full-fledged aria." - San Francisco Chronicle
"Williams is the kind of writer who makes a reader feel that [her] voice might also, one day, be heard .She cancels out isolation: Connections are woven as you sit in your chair reading---between you and the place you live, between you and other readers, you and the writer. Without knowing how it happened, your sense of home is deepened." - Susan Salter Reynolds, The Daily Beast
"Time, experience, and uncanny coincidence spiral through these pages .When Women Were Birds is an extraordinary echo chamber in which lessons about voice---passed along from mother, to daughter, and now to us---will reverberate differently in each inner ear." - The Seattle Times
"In some ways When Women Were Birds functions as a detective story, an attempt to solve a mystery. But it's also a realization that often there are no answers there's only the present." - The Salt Lake Tribune
"A lyrical, timeless book that rewards quiet, attentive reading - a rare thing." - The Huffington Post
"At some point I realized I was reading every page twice trying to memorize each insight, each bit of hard-won wisdom. Then I realized I could keep it on my bedside table and read it every night." - Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
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Terry Tempest Williams is the award-winning author of fourteen books, including Leap, An Unspoken Hunger, Refuge, and, most recently, Finding Beauty in a Broken World. She divides her time between Castle Valley, Utah, and Moose, Wyoming.
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