Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Bird In Hand by Christina Baker Kline

I perused what others had said about Christina Baker Kline's newest book, "Bird in Hand", and agreed with some, absolutely and steadfastly disagreed with others, and could go either way on some of the comments where I noticed that the reader came to know the characters in a different way than I envisioned them.
"Bird in Hand" focuses on the relationship of a quartet of two couples whose intentions and desires are not always in line with whom they are coupled with. I found it an honest expose of human nature in relationships: honestly told with no sugar coating.
People are not always who they seem nor do they always do the "right thing". What is behind their mask and who is touched by the decision to do what is "right for them" but wrong for others they may love makes a story that feels not only genuine but well told.
Beyond her writing style appealing to me, so does her human-ness as she goes back and reviews the cracks that were obviously in the foundation of each separate coupling to begin with.
As I read the book I kept telling my partner that I wasn't sure who I should be sad for. I think that is a strength of the book, not a weakness, that we know each of the characters so well that we don't want anyone to be left behind or without. We take turns getting mad at each well described foible that we are sure we would have noticed and not dismissed along the way.

Describing one of the quartet when he has finally made the break, Ms. Kline writes,

Charlie Feels as though he's been thawed out, freed from a block of ice. How bizarre to say you're leaving and then just...leave. He never imagined it would be so easy--that, like a wizard in a legend, speaking the words would make it so. Something this monumental should be more challenging; he should have had to walk through fire, outwit a dragon, hack through thorny brambles. Find his way through a maze before he was allowed to walk out the door.

This is not a novel for romantics. It is a novel for realists who believe that love can have happy beginnings and expected middles and still have room for an ending that has four different levels of satisfaction for people still trying to sort out if beginnings always come before endings.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the writer's analysis of Bird in Hand. This is a complicated book precisely because it refuses to divide the characters into black and white portrayals. The story reflects real people, each acting out of his or her own background and character. Bird in Hand helps us remember that our decisions are multi-faceted in origin and in consequence. Each human being is complicated, a truth which Baker Kline's creatively crafted story helps us to remember and to continue reflecting on.