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BIRDS IN FALL BY BRAD KESSLER - AGAIN

Turning 30 is a sobering event. For my generation anyone over 30 was considered “the establishment”. Then somehow I was 30 myself, with kids and a mortgage, and a station wagon and a cottage. That was about when my husband and I began to think about where we wanted to be by the time we were 60.

We decided to pack up city life and move to Parry Sound, the town closest to the cottage, and open a book store. Crazy as it seems now it was a good move – as long as we don’t think about what we could sell our Toronto home for now if we’d kept it!

And, now we are well past 60, and the business is 30 years old. Which got me thinking about all of the great books I’ve read and recommended over those years. I have decided to re-read some of my favourite books, beginning with Birds in Fall by Brad Kessler. I was listening to an interview on CBC radio between a reporter and an ornithologist, and she mentioned that she had just come home from a research trip on a boat off Nova Scotia – a boat that was involved in the recovery efforts after the crash of a Swiss Air flight in 1998 near Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. An event that inspired Brad Kessler to write Birds in Fall.

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Published in 2006 Birds in Fall tells the story of some of the victims of a plane crash, and of some of the family members who come to the site of the crash to mourn.

The novel opens with the scene of passengers in a plane, taking off from New York City, bound for Amsterdam. Settling into a long flight, thinking of all sorts of things. Perhaps chatting with the person in the next seat. Then, it becomes obvious to the passengers – and the reader – that there is something seriously wrong with this airplane.

Along with Kevin Gearns we see the airplane fall into the sea, into the water off a small island in Nova Scotia. A horrifying sight. Kevin, and his partner, Douglas, own a small inn on the island. It is fall, and they are about to close for the season, but the crash of this plane forces a change in plan.

The inn is booked by the Red Cross as a place for family members to stay when they arrive, and the story continues with the interweaving of the lives of the family members, and their hosts. One of the characters is an ornithologist, and there is a lovely association woven into the story of the victims, the family members and the fragility of bird life.

I loved reading this book again just as much now as I did in the fall of 2007.

You can search the review index for Birds in Fall on our website to read the earlier review, and you’ll know why I still recommend this book to anyone who has not yet read it.

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