Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
Release Date - March 2015
Wendy Lamb Books
Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth
Twig and her mother return to the family home in Sidwell, New York, following a tragic accident. Twig's mother will take over the family business. One thing is made very clear to Twig, she must keep the family's secret.
When they gain new neighbors, Twig becomes close to one of the girls, but her mother informs her that many, many years ago, the new neighbors' ancestors placed a curse on Twig's family. She cannot befriend this family. Twig isn't as convinced, especially now that she has her first friend, and she sets out to change things.
Readers will learn new information as the book progresses, so I'm sticking to information that is only gained in the first few chapters. The book's setting is clearly magical and comes to life. I've always loved Alice Hoffman's books for that. Between the settings and characters, she certainly does draw you into the story. With Twig, there is an innocence to her that readers will appreciate. She knows she's been uprooted from New York City. She's in a town where people do not treat her as she would expect to be treated, and her mother keeps insisting that she cannot reveal a secret. Twig has a hard time with that secret, too.
At first, I was baffled by Twig's mother's standoffish ways. She treats old friends coldly, she wants to have no communications with the townspeople, she's much of a hermit really. As you read, the pieces of the puzzle are revealed and it does start to make sense. You just have to get a few chapters in before you get it.
Nightbird is a charming story that I think is ideal for the middle reader. It's filled with magic, great vocabulary, and characters that you want to befriend.