Author: Alice Hoffman
Target Audience: Middle Grade
Length: 208 pages
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books | Random House
Publication Date: March 10th 2015
Available Formats: Hardcover, E-book, Audio
Add the book: Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon | BN |The Book Depository
An enchanting novel from bestselling author Alice Hoffman: a charmed New England village, a family secret, and a friendship destined to defeat a witch.
“Some things could only be found in Sidwell it seemed: pink apples, black owls, and my brother, James.”
Twelve-year-old Twig’s town in the Berkshires is said to hide a winged beast, the Monster of Sidwell, and the rumors draw as many tourists as the town’s famed pink apple orchards. Twig lives in the orchard with her mysterious brother James and her reclusive mother, a baker of irresistible apple pies. Because of a family secret, an ancient curse,Twig has had to isolate herself from other kids. Then a family with two girls, Julia and Agate, moves into the cottage next door. They are descendants of the witch who put the spell on Twig’s family. But Julia turns out to be Twig’s first true friend, and her ally in trying to undo the curse and smooth the path to true love for Agate and James.
James had a theory about caged birds…he believed that all birds that had their freedom taken from them eventually lost their voices. Once that happened,they could never again find their true song.
Middle Grade reads can be hit or miss for me, but having read and loved a couple of other books by Alice Hoffman I had confidence that she wouldn’t let me down. (One of these days I really will read more of her.)
I’ll lead with my sole criticism…the fact that it felt like Hoffman over simplified with this one due to her target audience. Middle Grade readers can handle a lot more depth than she gives them credit for with Nightbird…but with that said it was still an amazing piece of writing.
Hoffman knows how to evoke emotion and senses. I could feel Twig’s loneliness, hear the birdsong, smell her mother’s pink apple pie…. It was all so real in the most deliciously dreamy way.
As expected this read was simply charming and imbued with elegant magic. Predictably, I loved the small New England town and it’s cast of characters that we slowly learn about through Twig as she opens herself up to the townsfolk, friendship and possibilities all in one formative summer. I loved the story too…the love and friendships, the growth and faith, the hope and magic. This is one of those reads that leaves one feeling snuggled in a warm throw with a cup of tea on a chilly Autumn day.
I think Alice Hoffman herself sums it up best in this paragraph from her introduction:
“For my readers who are searching for the same things I searched for, Nightbird is a book of hope, for the lonely, the friendless, the girl who is different, the boy who has secrets to keep. In it, magic can be found in unexpected places, right next door or scrawled on a piece of paper hidden in an old desk. It takes place in a summer when everything changes, when the moon is red, when friendships are forged, and when love can be found at your own front door.” ~Alice Hoffman