Nom de Plume Rating: ★★★★☆
Reading Time: 5 minutes
*FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of Where the Sweet Bird Sings from Kensington in exchange for an honest review. I have in no way been influenced by the author and/or publisher’s generosity. You can’t fake these stars, baby!
People respond to tragedy in different ways. Some try to move on. Some don’t move at all. A year after her young son’s death due to a rare genetic disease, Emma Hazelton is still frozen by grief, unable and unwilling to consider her husband Noah’s suggestion that they try to have another child.
As the future Emma once imagined crumbles, her family’s past comes into sharp relief. Searching for the roots of her son’s disease, Emma tries to fit together the pieces in her genealogical puzzle. Hidden within an old wedding photograph of her great-grandparents is an unusual truth Emma never guessed at–a window into all the ways that love can be surprising, generous, and fiercely brave . . . and a discovery that may help her find her own way forward at last.
First Line: “His hand clenched in a loose fist, but today he wasn’t fighting…”
“I’d done this type of thing before. On a different day I’d stayed near a tiny grave for house because storm clouds were approaching and I couldn’t bear to leave my son alone in the rain.”
Ella Joy Olsen has officially ripped my heart out. of. my. BODY. Gah! My heart! 💔
There is not one word that encompasses all I’m feeling right now. Where the Sweet Bird Sings is slow and taunting, yet it has a very intense undercurrent that propels Emma on her journey. I wish that the undercurrent were a wee bit more violent, but that would have gone against Ella Joy Olsen’s typical writing style. Hey, I’m a greedy biatch.
Emma has lost her child to a rare genetic disease. Since Lady Luck is feeling like a backstabber, Emma also loses her grandfather the next year. (Cue: tears)
After the loss of her child, Emma is this shell of a body trudging through life in sorrow. Worst of all, she can’t move on—she wants to!—but at the same time moving on would mean letting go and that’s where she is conflicted.
To make things worse (you didn’t think it could get any worse did you?) she partially blames her husband, Noah, for it! At this point in time, she’s pretty much blaming everyone except herself for what has happened around her. As a result, when Noah tries to suggest they have another baby, she pushes him away.
“I’ve got to go. My husband…I can’t believe I’ve been here so long.” I dashed out the door, an empty feeling in my gut. If I told him, would he hear me? But if he could, I knew he’d understand.
You’re asking a lot of a man who you’ve been pushing away, mah dear!
Emma is on the sad train to Misery and after the death of her grandfather she is ready to fully succumb to her depression. While cleaning out her grandfather’s house, she finds an old picture of him with a woman she has never seen before—a woman who looks a lot like her.
“My grandpa was born in England? Why had this not been mentioned when I was doing the required immigrant report in fifth grade?”
This mysterious picture is the start of her journey towards recovery. She begins to research her ancestry. Of course, her marriage is still in shambles, but now she is choosing to do something and seek out answers rather than wallow in self pity.
Where the Sweet Bird Sings is an powerful and heartfelt read. Emma aggressively transforms and learns to forgive. A single picture catapults her on a wild journey towards discovery, and inevitably she gives herself permission to love again.
What does she find? What about her marriage?! *eyebrow waggle*
Well, you’ll have to give Ella Joy Olsen full access to your heart to find out. #SheWillRipItOut