Milkweed. Apr. 2021. 298p. ISBN 9781571311382. $24. F
The aviary of the book’s title is a metaphor for a senior apartment complex in an unnamed Montana college town. There is concern among the varied residents regarding deteriorating conditions in the building and the presence of an incompetent and threatening new maintenance man. A fire in an apartment and the disappearance of one of the residents lead to further stress and suspicion. Empathetic fire investigator Lander Maki is brought into the case, while the residents share their theories and cope with their own histories of love and loss. A pair of troubled teenagers, one bullied and the other abused, are also thrown into the mix. Housing precarity, a lack of concern and care for elders, and the necessity of acknowledging the relationship of humans to the natural world are overarching themes.
VERDICT With so many (perhaps too many) characters and story threads, one worries whether McNamer (Red Rover) will be able to bring them together by the end, but she does. The conclusion is satisfying, but mention of a mysterious illness afflicting one resident returning from a cruise in early 2020 casts an ominous shadow. Recommended for readers eager for nonquaint novels about seniors.
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