Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review & Giveaway ~ The Bird House by Kelly Simmons

The Bird House: A NovelThe Bird House: A Novel
Author ~ Kelly Simmons
Publisher ~ Simon & Schuster
ISBN ~ 1439160937
Publication date ~ February 1, 2011

About the book ~ 

Every family has its secrets. But when you are suddenly the matriarch, tending the dark fires of memory, and your own mind is fading, who do you dare to share them with? Your diary, or your eight-year-old granddaughter?

Interweaving diaries penned forty years apart, Kelly Simmons’s captivating second novel, The Bird House, blends the fierce voice of Ann Biddle, a woman struggling to bond with her only grandchild, Ellie, while railing against the ravages of early dementia, with her point-of-view as a young wife and mother. We witness the secrets of Ann’s family and her grand-daughter and daughter-in-law’s through every lens — from the clarity of the rearview mirror to the haze of Alzheimer’s. And we see her grappling through the ‘60’s with sleep deprivation, breast cancer, her own mother’s death, a passionate affair, and a tragedy that leaves her stunned until, four decades later, her whip-smart granddaughter unwittingly sheds a burst of light on the family’s shadowy history.

A subtly tense, darkly psychological tug of war between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, present and past, The Bird House is a moving treatise on family, love, and memories—both lost and found. And proves a worthy successor to her book club favorite debut, Standing Still.

Click HERE to read the first chapter

My thoughts ~ 

Ann Biddle isn’t sure which of her memories she can trust these days and which ones she cannot. Right from the start Ann lets us know that she killed her daughter. She tells of a not-so-perfect marriage and of other things she wishes she could have changed in her past. But how much of these memories are completely accurate? How many are distortions of a past that she now struggles to remember? Or could these be recollections she has constructed in her mind to protect herself from the real truths, the real hurts? Just how many family secrets are trapped in not only Ann’s memory, but in the old trunks hidden away in her attic?

Ann’s granddaughter Ellie is given a project for school that she needs Ann’s help on. She must recreate the past, with a theme that runs throughout the family history, and then retell it in her own way. Ellie is a bright, reserved, sweet, precious eight-year-old who sometimes may be to mature for her own good. She is acutely aware of her surroundings, aware of her grandmother’s fading memory, and aware that her mother, Tinsley –(Ann’s daughter-in-law), - has reservations about the time Ellie spends with her grandmother. But is the reason for Tinsley wanting to keep Ann and Ellie apart due to Ann’s fading memory and her concern for Ellie’s safety when she is with her? Is it because she is jealous of the growing relationship between the older woman and young girl? Could it be because she knows that Ann may be aware of her secret? A secret she will do whatever is necessary to keep, including keeping grandmother and granddaughter apart. 

Ann tells us her story through her diary entries, fluctuating between the present when she works with Ellie on her project and dealing with her failing memory, to the past when she discusses her marriage, her father’s disappearance and fraud, regrets and the death of her child. The book is filled with situations that have more than likely happened in our own lives, with characters that are real, believable, and most likely remind us of someone who we know and love. You will be engaged in Ann’s story from page one; wanting to know what her secrets are and how close to reality her perceptions of the past are. The Bird House is a beautifully told story of heartbreak, fading memories, past loves, guilt, family secrets, and the power of three generations of women.


About Kelly Simmons

Kelly Simmons is the author of the critically acclaimed Simon & Schuster novel, Standing Still, and coming in February, The Bird House. She is a former journalist and advertising creative director who lives in the Philadelphia area with her family, and divides her time between writing, teaching, public speaking, and vacuuming up dog hair. She was born and raised in Waukegan, Illinois, and credits weekly visits to the Waukegan Public Library for her literary prowess. (Her determination to succeed, however, could only come from being a Cubs fan.) Visit her website at

Connect with Kelly on Facebook and Twitter.

Click on the TLC logo to visit the other stops on  The Bird House: A Novel tour.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and the author I have one (1) autographed copy of The Bird House: A Novel to give away.

GIVEAWAY Rules for entering:

* This contest is open to residents of USA only
* Please complete the form below - do not leave information in the comments - it will not count.
* The contest will end on March 2nd at 11:59PM EST; 1 winner will be selected and contacted thereafter.
* Once the winners are contacted, they will have 48 hours to respond to my email or another winner will be chosen (make sure to check your spam filters!).
* Book will be shipped directly from the author. 

FTC Full Disclosure ~ I received this book from the publisher as part of the TLC tour