The Nature of Small Birds: A Novel

Revell. Jul. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780800740061. $29.99; pap. ISBN 9780800739355. $15.99. CF
“Turns out that the nature of small birds is to fly,” Bruce Matthews realizes as his three daughters, Sonny, Mindy, and Holly, test their wings and get ready to leave the nest. Told in three different timelines, the story of the Matthews family is a deep dive into a white Middle American family profoundly impacted by the Vietnam War and their decision to adopt a baby from Vietnam through the Operation Babylift program. In 2013, Bruce looks back at a life well-lived and encourages his grown daughters to pursue their dreams. In 1988, Sonny fights with her adopted sister and struggles to look beyond her own teenage needs. In 1975, Linda yearns for another child and learns hard lessons about parenting her new multicultural family.
VERDICT Finkbeiner (The Stories That Bind Us) has deftly written this narrative of ordinary people finding their way, set against a backdrop of global upheaval and war; the characters are realistic and vibrant. Readers looking for realist family stories with a subtle thread of faith, like Erin Bartels’s All That We Carried or Katie Ganshert’s No One Ever Asked, will want to read Finkbeiner’s latest.
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