Sunday, January 24, 2016

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Cover image for NightbirdTwig is a loner in her small town of Sidwell, Massachusetts.  She never accepts invitations to parties or play dates.  After a while most people just stop paying attention to her.  She spends her time at home with her brother and mother, both even more reclusive than herself.  One day a family moves into the old deserted house near Twig's house.  They have a girl Twig's age who is so friendly Twig can't help but want to hang around with her.  She knows she should avoid the girl, Julie, because of a dark history between her family and twig's family involving a witch and a curse, but Twig's longing for a friend overcomes her fear that her own family secret could be revealed. 

This story had a lot of potential.  The plot was fine, and the characters were fine.  The problem was in the writing.  It was like Hoffman had too much back story she had to introduce, but not enough time to introduce it naturally.  So she kept just sticking it in, suddenly and without warning, wherever she needed it to advance the plot.  Twig would suddenly "remember" something from the past, or she would go to the library, and even though most of the documents from that period in history she was looking for had been destroyed by a fire, the one document that gave all the details she wanted in a nice little package, just happened to survive the fire.  Too many convenient coincidences.  I shook my head and rolled my eyes over and over as I read this one.  I am surprised that Hoffman has been a NY Times best seller before.  Her other books must be better than this one.(199 p)

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