Nightbird
Nightbird
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Alice Hoffman
ISBN 9780385389587
Wendy Lamb/Random House, 2015.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: alice-hoffman environmental-issues family friendship magical-realism nightbird secrets

Nightbird
by Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman melds magic and realism in a way that makes nearly anything seem possible. As she did in Green Angel, the author again explores themes of nature, rebirth and renewal.

Twelve-year-old narrator Teresa "Twig" Fowler confesses, "The only thing I'm good at is running. And keeping secrets. I'm excellent at that." Gradually, readers learn the source of her family's secrecy: Twig's nearly 17-year-old brother, James, has wings--thanks to a curse placed on their family 200 years ago by Agnes Gate, when Twig's "four-times-great-grandfather" stood her up on their wedding day. Ever since, all the males of the Fowler family have been born with wings. One day, the Hall family moves into Agnes's abandoned cottage with a girl Twig's age named Julia and a 16-year-old beauty named Agate. Twig avoids them--until Julia tells Twig she's seen her brother through the attic window, and so has her beautiful sister. No simple star-crossed love story, Hoffman's novel layers on multiple meaningful connections and mysteries. The town's "Gossip Group" attributes petty thefts to a "Sidwell monster." Twig and Julia set out to solve the mystery--before a full-on search starts in which her brother could be discovered and made scapegoat.

Hoffman's woods are a place of wonder and magic, where James takes flight and Twig goes on adventures. While Twig's mother lives in fear and secrecy, Twig discovers peace of mind through openness and friendship, and a faith that she can reverse the curse and free her brother from his attic cage.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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