Book Review: The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner

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About the Book

Title: The Nature of Small Birds
Author: Susie Finkbeiner
Genre: Women’s Christian Fiction
Publisher: Revell, 368 pages
Release Date: July 6, 2021

In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy’s desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he’ll lose the daughter he’s poured his heart into. Mindy’s mother undergoes the emotional rollercoaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy’s sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family–but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.

Read an excerpt here.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Susie Finkbeiner is a story junkie. Always has been and always will be. It seems it’s a congenital condition, one she’s quite fond of.

After decades of reading everything she could get her hands on (except for See the Eel, a book assigned to her while in first grade, a book she declared was unfit for her book-snob eyes), Susie realized that she wanted to write stories of her own. She began with epics about horses and kittens (but never, ever eels).

It takes years to grow a writer and after decades of work, Susie realized (with much gnashing of teeth and tears) that she was a novelist. In order to learn how to write novels, she read eclectically and adventurously (she may never swim with sharks, but the lady will jump into nearly any story). After reading the work of Lisa Samson, Patti Hill, and Bonnie Grove she realized that there was room for a writer like her in Christian fiction.

Her first novels Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother’s Chamomile (2014) have contemporary settings. While she loved those stories and especially the characters, Susie felt the pull toward historical fiction.

When she read Into the Free by Julie Cantrell she knew she wanted to write historical stories with a side of spunk, grit, and vulnerability. Susie is also greatly inspired by the work of Jocelyn Green, Rachel McMillan, and Tracy Groot.

A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (2015), Finkbeiner’s bestselling historical set in 1930s Oklahoma, has been compared to the work of John Steinbeck and Harper Lee (which flatters Susie’s socks off). Pearl’s story continues with A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression (2017) and A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era (2018).

What does she have planned after that? More stories, of course. She’s a junkie. She couldn’t quit if she wanted to.

She serves on the Fiction Readers Summit planning committee, volunteers her time at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and speaks at retreats and women’s events across the country. Susie and her husband have three children and live in West Michigan.

Connect with Susie: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Bookbub | Goodreads

My Review

The Nature of Small Birds
By Susie Finkbeiner
Rating: 3.5/5

“It’s the nature of small birds to sing their hearts out. And it’s the nature of God to hear them.”

As someone who is a third generation Chinese-American, I was super interested in the story when I read about it. I was unfamiliar with Operation Babylift and wanted to know more. However, as I continued to read the story, I found myself getting confused by the jumping around in perspectives and timelines. It was clearly labeled by chapter but it was harder for me to track. While I found parts of the story really interesting, there were a lot of other parts that did not keep my attention. I struggled with wanting to like the book but wanting to be honest about how the book lacked making an impact on me. The book has some great quotes but it did not connect with me as much as I was thinking it would. The story seems well written and thought out but I just didn’t enjoy it the way I thought I would. 

“Sometimes the dreams of the young were replaced by those they never could have dared to imagine.
It didn’t mean that one dream was better than another. They were just different.”

This book is a story about family and what it means to bring a little child into your home who doesn’t share your culture and language and the journey to becoming one family. It’s a beautiful picture of adoption and the love that grows out of that choice. Does it have its flaws? Yes, but it still resonates with some heartfelt truths which make it worth reading. 

Recommend if you enjoy books that alternate perspectives and timelines and tell a family’s story.

My thanks to the author and publisher for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received. 

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