Review: Birds in Fall

Brad Kessler (2006)

Too much time has passed since I read this wonderful book for me to do it justice in a review. Suffice it to say Birds in Fall is the top contender for my favorite book of the year.

In one of the most riveting and frightening opening scenes I’ve ever read, a passenger jet plunges into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia. As next of kin arrive at an off-season island inn to wait out the search for survivors, the book interweaves individual stories of grief, loss, memory, and healing. Much of the story centers on Ana, an ornithologist whose husband was on the flight; the mystery of bird migration is a powerful thread carried throughout that feels completely organic to the story.

Birds in Fall is just as emotionally absorbing and heart wrenching as you’d expect a book about grief to be, but to my surprise it was an absolute pleasure to read, a book I looked forward to picking up time and again. Kessler’s prose grabbed me by the heart with the first page turn and didn’t let go until long after I’d read the final sentence and the glow of reading this transporting book had begun to fade with time.

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3 thoughts on “Review: Birds in Fall

  1. Sounds like Joan Didion could learn a lot from this book, since she didn’t cover grief too well in her “Year of Magical Thinking.” Fiction is usually a better way to capture such deep emotions.

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