Excerpt from The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Year the Swallows Came Early

by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

The Year the Swallows Came Early
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2009, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2011, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Joanne Collings

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter One

Coconut Flakes

We lived in a perfect stucco house, just off the sparkly Pacific, with a lime tree in the backyard and pink and yellow roses gone wild around a picket fence. But that wasn't enough to keep my daddy from going to jail the year I turned eleven. I told my best friend, Frankie, that it was hard to tell what something was like on the inside just by looking at the outside. And that our house was like one of those See's candies with beautiful swirled chocolate on the outside, but sometimes hiding coconut flakes on the inside, all gritty and hard, like undercooked white rice.

Things that look just right come undone quicker than the last day of summer. And one day, it happened right in front of me. The horoscope Mama read to me that morning should've been enough warning: Expect the unexpected. I'd raised my eyebrows and smiled, thinking the unexpected might be finally discovering a way to chop onions without crying or finding a dollar on the street—something unexpected but in a good way.

It wasn't.

Officer Miguel surprised Daddy and me, stopping us as we were walking out of the Swallow Shop & Ferry on our way into town. I walked with Daddy on his way to work every Saturday because I had no school bus to catch then.

"Mitch?" the officer asked my daddy. "There's a problem." He stood on the main corner of town, like he'd been waiting for us. Like he knew we'd be there at this time on this day.

"What problem?" I asked. I looked up at Daddy, thinking he must've forgotten to pay another parking ticket.

"I can't be late for work. I just started a new job at the hardware store," Daddy told the officer. "I'm sure this can wait." He took my hand quickly like he suddenly remembered he needed to get to an appointment, and we started across the street.

"But—" I turned to look back at Officer Miguel.

"Let's go," Daddy told me, pulling my arm just a little.

"You better take a look at this." Officer Miguel ran up to us fast, waving some papers, leaving his patrol car parked on the street.

Daddy sighed and stopped on the opposite sidewalk, where someone had used gray chalk to draw a small bird flying over a tree. His left foot covered the leaves of the tree and half the bird. He squeezed my hand hard, like he was trying to decide what to do. But then he let go softly, and his hand fell to his side.

"What's going on?" I asked him.

But he didn't answer. Instead, he watched the sky for what seemed like a million minutes—and just then, it seemed perfectly stitched to the horizon in the west where the cumulus clouds made shapes—like he was looking for an answer. Like he was waiting for the clouds to form the words, Say this. . . . Finally he pointed to the side of the road without looking at me or telling me anything.

So I walked there, knowing he wanted me to by the way he pushed his lips together. He held his arm high and stiff, like a command to go to my room.

Maybe it's true there's no such thing as a sign from above, but as I stepped onto that curb, I felt something. Even worse, I noticed Mr. Tom, the homeless man, suddenly standing up the street looking like he knew something too. Like he was saying, Groovy Robinson, be ready, because things could be changing.

My hands became sweaty. I waited while Officer Miguel showed Daddy the papers, trying to steer clear of Mr. Tom. I crossed and uncrossed my arms a million times. They had a mind of their own. Finally I pushed my hands deep into the pockets of my jean skirt just to keep them still.

I'm here to tell you I listened the best I could, but every time Officer Miguel talked, it was too hushed.

Daddy was louder and angrier than I'd ever heard him. And he kept taking little steps backward. And I kept thinking that he should not be talking to that policeman like he was.

  • 1
  • 2

The foregoing is excerpted from The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...
  • Book Jacket: Miss Jane
    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson
    National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson returns with an intimate novel about one woman's journey to...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!