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The skeletons in the closet have nothing on the one in your backyard.
Freshly divorced and grieving the death of her father, Josie Lauer has caged herself inside her home. To cope with her losses, Josie follows a strict daily routine of work, playing with her dog, Po, and trying to remember to eat a decent meal—and ending each night by drinking copious amounts of vodka. In other words, she is not coping at all.
Everything changes when Josie wakes to find a small shrub has sprouted in her otherwise dirt backyard the morning after yet another bender. Within hours, the vine-like plant is running amok—and it’s brought company. The appearance of the unwieldly growth has also heralded the arrival of a busybody new neighbor who insists on thrusting herself into Josie’s life. The neighbor Josie can deal with. The talking skeleton called Skelly that has perched itself in Josie’s backyard on a throne made of vines, however, is an entirely different matter.
As the strangely sentient plant continues to grow and twist its tendrils inside Josie’s suddenly complicated life, Josie begins to realize her new neighbor knows a lot more about the vines and her bizarre new visitor than she initially lets on. There’s a reason Skelly has chosen to appear in Josie’s suddenly-blooming backyard and insists on pulling her out of her carefully kept self-isolation. All Josie has to do is figure out what that reason is—and she has only a few days to do it, or else she might find herself on the wrong side of catastrophe.
LITTLE BIRD is a story about found family, no matter how bizarre.
Josie lives alone with her dog Po. She has isolated herself from the world, works in a job where she writes emails for clients who need someone to email in a way that smooths over some sort of gaffe, and she drinks herself into oblivion with cheap vodka every night. She avoids her mother. She does not care for any of her neighbors. She is less than enthused to see Sue moving into the rental next door, and she hopes that this lady will leave her alone and move on quicker than the last tenant. With the arrival of this neighbor, vines start to appear in her grass-free backyard. Soon this neighbor, these vines, and a talking skeleton in the backyard take over her life.
I really like the first half of this book. The setup and the character development are very well done, and it is pretty exciting watching Josie squirm under the intrusions into her life. The second half gets to the bottom of the reasons why Josie is the way that she is, and there are some great, quotable sentences, but it is much more philosophical and meditative than the first half. This is not to say that the second half is not good; the second half book does not have the same momentum and whimsy that started in the first half.
I like the characters and the writing in Little Bird. This definitely feels like a character journey type book, where Josie learns more awareness of how the things she does impacts the world, regardless of whether or not she feels like she is being impactful. The way she feels about the things that she has lost and the way that she copes with her losses are not only affecting her, but they have an effect on everyone around her. Even if most of the world is through her computer and her physical interactions are minimal, there are ways that she disrupts the world. This story embraces that lesson and Josie is not interested in hearing any of it. As a whole the story of Little Bird is well written and interesting, and it gives you some ideas on self-awareness that will make you think long after the story is over.
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.