I did not make a mistake typing the title! This is exactly how the title appears on the book. Strange, isn’t it? But, it fits the story because this book is weird from the get-go.
This is a story of love, life and death. It begins with Ava’s great-grandparents who emigrate from France to the U.S. The family has strange things that happen to them both in France and in the U.S. The father is a big hard-working man with a very over-active imagination. One day he goes to work and never is seen again. The mother is very quiet, and she finally disappears into a small pile of blue ashes. Emilienne is thought by many to be a witch. Pierette, the youngest, falls in love with an ornithologist and turns herself into a canary to make him happy. When she dies, Emilienne carries her body around in a lozenge box. René, the only boy, has girls swooning over him, but he prefers boys and gets himself killed because of it. Margaux becomes pregnant, and Emilienne discovers that her fiancé is the father of her sister’s baby, but both Margaux and the baby die, and Emilienne throws her former fiancé out a window. (He lives and runs away.)
After the death of all of her loved ones, Emilienne marries Connor Lavender, a man she doesn’t love, because she wants to be a good wife to him BUt mostly it is because she wants to leave her past behind. Still, she feels she can’t give her heart to anyone because she will only lose that person. Connor Lavendar and Emilienne move to Seattle where they live into a house with a very unusual past. No one in Seattle wants to live there so the couple has no problem obtaining it. Emilienne gives birth to one child, Vivianne. Connor is very devoted to Emilienne, but he dies on night of a heart attack. Emilienne takes her baby to the bakery shop Connor had started and continues to his work.
Then the story really gets strange. A young man from town takes advantage of Vivienne and impregnates her with twins. Vivienne’s son is strange – today we would call him autistic, – and the girl, Ava, is born with wings. No one seems to know why she has wings. She can’t fly with them, but the doctors say they can’t remove them. Vivianne isolates the children at home to keep the people in Seattle from making fun of them, but as all teenagers are wont to do, Ava sneaks out with a neighbor girl she had become friends with and joins up with some teens at the reservoir.
The teens accept Ava with her wings, and life goes on. A young man even falls in love with her, but another man in their community becomes obsessed with her. This man attacks Ava, rapes her, and cuts off her wings one night as she is coming home from the reservoir. The entire book is about these strange people, but nothing is explained about what caused Ava’s wings – or anything else for that matter. There seems to be very little plot. There are characters that seem very real and draw the reader into their personalities. These characters are multidimensional and their lives are intertwined, but there is no real resolution to any situation.
The book reminds me, for some reason of As I Lay Dying. (I couldn’t figure out the purpose for that book either.) Even the end of this book is difficult to explain. Ava’s wings regrow, and she soars off into the night. But is she really alive? or is she soaring off to death? I honestly can’t find any reason to recommend it for purchase by school libraries. Perhaps another reviewer might feel differently, but that is my opinion.
hello i’m right now reading this amazing book but i am slightly confused by how exactly Pierette turned herself into a canary and how did she die
I, too, did not understand that. It is possible that all of the story existed ONLY in her mind.