Friday, June 29, 2012

The Birdhouse by Kelly Simmons

When Ann's granddaughter Ellie, asks for her help on a school project on family history, Ann thinks this will be the perfect opportunity to spend time with her. But as they work together uncovering the past, questions about Ann's early life begin to emerge. What did happen to Ann's first child? Was her life with Theo quite as idyllic as it seemed from the outside? And what happened to cause her mother and father's acrimonious split, can she really trust her mother's version of events? And as secrets from the past seem in danger of being exposed, new secrets emerge about Ann's son and daughter-in-law, secrets which threaten to tear the whole family apart. As events unfold in the present day and we learn what happened during a summer thirty years ago, Simmons depicts the unravelling of a family in this gripping psychological thriller.

Love, love, love this book!  That's my highest rating. :)  There are actually two stories within this book - the present, when Ann is trying to connect with her granddaughter and battling signs of dementia; and the past, with it's secrets.  As the reader is enjoying the present story, bits of the past surface slowly enough to create intrigue and tension, but frequently enough to avoid frustration.  Ms. Simmons is a master of pacing.

Frequent visitors know that Alzheimer's disease is an issue our family is dealing with and one I find, perhaps ghoulishly, fascinating - especially the early stages.  The book is written from Ann's point of view, so when her moments of confusion or memory loss are revealed, we experience the agitation and disorientation with her - never quite sure if her recall is accurate.  Is she experiencing the beginnings of dementia or is she being "gaslighted" by her family?

Through the two stories and time frames, we see Ann - and she sees herself - as almost two separate people.  That sense of disconnection, combined with the memory questions, makes an absorbing story.  I can't wait to read more from Ms. Simmons.


  1. This sounds like a good one! I'm putting it on my list to read. I too am fascinated about Alzheimer's and memory loss (MIL had dementia from Parkinson's). Thanks for the review!


  2. Your review of this book is lovely and has me convinced that I must read it. As most people, the thought of Alzheimers frightens and scares me but I believe this book would be a great experience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. I hadn't heard of this one, Tami. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Anything that earns your highest praise is one I need to check out!

  4. Thank you for this lovely review of my book!
    Many reviewers compared it to Still Alice, and I'm so proud that people are discovering it.

    My first book came out in 2008--STANDING STILL -- and I'm working on two more as we speak. Thanks again!