This review is done as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I purchased the book.
Birds Don’t Cry is a story of relationships between siblings, something to which most of us can relate. Middle-aged Kaffy Sullivan, ornery and set in her ways, lives in Sullivan House, an old inn set next to a magnificent forest and open for tourists to stay. She hopes to live out her life there, maintaining her grandparents’ legacy to their three grandchildren. Kaffy, with the volunteer help of her sister-in-law, Sylvia, is determined to keep the inn going. She has come to rely on Sylvia for setting up, chicken dinners on Saturday nights, and lively conversations with the guests (something which Kaffy can’t manage). Now she is faced with a reviewer from The Lonely Tripper books coming to stay at the inn, something that could make or break its reputation. Trying to bring the lovely innup to date, she has hired her creepy brother, Red, Sylvia’s husband, to expand the front porch before the visit.
One morning before that visit, Sylvia doesn’t show up at the inn and seems to have disappeared. Kaffy is puzzled and also apprehensive that she can get Sullivan House ready in time without Sylvia’s help. It takes some time before Kaffy realizes that Sylvia is really missing – distracted as she is by keeping a horse and its foal she finds in the woods, knowing full well the horses belong to a neighbor who comes looking for them.
She finally realizes her brother doesn’t seem to care that his wife is missing and after several days starts asking questions, eventually calling the police. Adding to her stress is the impending reading of her grandmother’s will and wondering if she will be allowed to keep Sullivan House. In the meantime, her brother and her conniving and greedy older sister Maxine are conspiring to remove her and sell the house. The stress brings out memories buried for years, making the world a much darker place for Kaffy.
Where is Sylvia? Can Kaffy get her life under control? Will her odious brother and nasty sister throw her out of her beloved home?
This is definitely a psychological story of sibling rivalry and buried memories, but I had some problems with it. Perhaps the author intended for Kaffy to seem as somewhat distractible and clueless as she first seems, although her character improves as you read further into the book. Her taking the horses she found in the woods while looking for Sylvia was an odd and an unlikely diversion. Red seems equally oblivious to the disappearance of his wife. Is his aimlessness and waffling a family trait? He is also not averse to some skullduggery with his older sister, Maxine, that would have a profound effect on Kaffy, and there is much more to his relationship with Kaffy than initially apparent. Maxine plays much less of a role in the book but is sharply drawn and eminently unlikable. Nevertheless, the author created enough interest in the characters to keep me reading.
The author touches on a lot of subjects involving these siblings – mental health, sexual assault, theft – and manages to move between them fairly deftly, but there is a certain awkwardness to the book that I can’t quite put my finger on. I will say the ending was somewhat unsatisfying – I wanted more, which tells me I had become invested in the characters.
About the author (from Amazon)
Sandy Day is the author of Fred’s Funeral, Chatterbox Poems, An Empty Nest, Head on Backwards Chest Full of Sand, and Birds Don’t Cry. She graduated from Glendon College, York University, with a degree in English Literature sometime in the last century. Sandy is a trained facilitator for the Toronto Writers Collective’s creative writing workshops. She lives in Georgina, Ontario, Canada.
You can find Sandy Day
On Twitter: @SandyDaywriter
On her book site: https://sandyday.ca/books/
And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SandyDayWriter
You can find Birds Don’t Cry on Amazon: