Review of ‘Other Birds’

Other Birds explores the beautiful ways to let go of grief, pain, and anger and form your own family.

A beautiful novel, Other Birds shifts between ghosts of loved ones and four main characters, exploring the depths of family and how blood is not the only thing that matters.


other birds

Other Birds
Sarah Addison Allen
St. Martin’s Press

The storytelling here was so breathtaking. Following Zoey from her cold home to the Dellawisp, off the coast of South Carolina, on Mallow Island. Zoey is heading to the one place that is truly her own, given to her by her deceased mother. Alongside her imaginary/ghost bird Pigeon, Zoey is embarking on a new life, seeking to find any connection.

But that is the core of Other Birds, finding love, creating a family, and letting go of the baggage that keeps people locked up.

The writing flows effortlessly between the characters, both alive and ghostly. And the magical realism aspect gives the story a thoughtful atmosphere. The reader is engaged in the plot line, in the development of the characters, and in the story.

This is a character-driven story, short and quick but not without depth. Exploring the depths of pain these characters go through, their pasts, their fears, and the release of what it means to let go.

Lizbeth is a perfect example of how that pain drives a person to isolation. As a child, Lizbeth was blinded by her need to be loved failing to see that her father was sexually abusing her sister. This continued into adulting her. Lizbeth needed her story to be shared; she needed to be the center of attention. Her resentment grew, keeping her from being the mother Oliver deserved.

Lizbeth never let go, not until death, straining her relationship with her sister and Oliver.

Learning to Let Go

Charlotte refrained from forming connections because of her dark past. As a young girl, she ran away, escaping the cult her mother pulled her into. Always moving, always on the run, she resisted forming connections.

Abandoned as a child, Mac sought refuge with the woman down the street who would feed any child who came to her doorstep. Mac found a love of cooking with her, but unable to let her go once she passed, he kept her ghost around.

Every single character here is bound by the baggage of their past. Still, when Zoey enters their lives, her eagerness to form a family of her own makes allows others to break down their walls.

Seeing those walls break down pulls the reader in. Zoey is idealistic, but there is sadness around the edges that the reader sees and connects to. No one wants to be alone. Connection, whether romantic or familial, is what drives most humans.

But not one of these characters can connect until those moments when they finally move on. And seeing the way the story moves, creating those character dynamics, evolving them in a way that allows for warmth sets in.

Final Thoughts

Other Birds is a beautiful story about family, love, and the power of letting go.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
other birds

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