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Three Bird Summer

Review

Three Bird Summer

On an idyllic tramp through the woods, staring at outlines of trees blooming lush in summer, feeling sweat trickle against your skin and maybe even seeing a startled doe cross your path with fleet hooves, you are likely to meet Adam and Alice of THREE BIRD SUMMER. When you duck into a lake’s cold murkiness and skim your finger along rippled waters’ surface, watch the two friends. Screened behind tree trunks and sitting on a dock near a wave-rimmed porch, talk to them there. It’s possible --- almost.
 
In THREE BIRD SUMMER, Adam arrives at his grandmother’s isolated lakeside cabin as he does every summer. After his parents’ divorce last winter, his rowdy cousins won’t be coming, but he’s heard of the new neighbors who have moved in… including a girl his own age. Adam’s mystified by girls and isn’t eager to meet Alice. All he wants to do is have a summer for himself at Three Bird Lake --- a summer without his parents’ fighting or girls or problems.
 
[THREE BIRD SUMMER] is made gorgeous in the scenery and language and very ink and page of the novel.
 
Even in the bosky land and acres thick with tall trees, problems do come. Adam’s grandma isn’t quite the same. She has moments of confusion and forgetfulness, but Adam is all too happy to look over it until Grandma begins to leave notes in his room --- notes to a mysterious love from long ago. When the notes reference a hidden treasure from some 50 years ago, Adam is intrigued. Over the weeks, he’s discovered that though Alice looks like the pretty, popular girls from his school, she’s funny and smart and friendly. He shows her the notes, and together they begin to unravel the mystery.
 
What makes THREE BIRD SUMMER so wonderful is not just the gradual friendship of Adam and Alice or the sweet, sad notes that lead them to their search. The characters are all well-developed --- each person has a history, a story within them that the book does not reveal but only hints at. There are no stereotypes here, and characters who seem pegged into one role surprise you with another side of themselves. The realism of this novel is perhaps where Sara St. Antoine shines most. By realism I don’t mean presenting the mundane facts of life, but rather the view of a quiet summer that could happen to anyone and that is made gorgeous in the scenery and language and very ink and page of the novel. Reading THREE BIRD SUMMER is like one of the canoe rides that Adam and Alice take: it is only boring if you want it to be, for all around is blue lake and streaks of trees, friendship to be found and hope for a family that is hurting beneath the surface. Ripples are waiting to be made in the water. Take your paddle and clamber in. I’ll be there, too.

Reviewed by Mary McC., Teen Board Member on June 5, 2014

Three Bird Summer
by Sara St. Antoine

  • Publication Date: April 10, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 153620045X
  • ISBN-13: 9781536200454