Book Talk: *Bird in Hand*, by Chistina Baker Kline (TLC Book Tour)

Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher, via Trish at TLC Book Tours. *I am an Amazon Associate; purchasing links are provided by and will generate a small referral fee if used.

Bird in Hand by 
Christina Baker KlineBird in Hand: A Novel
Christina Baker Kline
Harper Paperbacks (2010), Reprint, Paperback (ISBN 0060798904 / 9780060798901)
Fiction, 288 pages

Opening Lines
: “For Alison, these things will always be connected: the moment that cleaved her life into two sections and the dawning realization that even before the accident her life was not what it seemed. In the moment that it took the accident to happen, and in the slow-motion moments afterward, she still believed there was order in the universe – that she’d be able to put things right. But with one random error, built on dozens of tiny mistakes of judgment, she slipped into a different story that seemed, for a long time, to have nothing to do with her.”

Book description: The accident was just that — an accident. It was dark, it was raining, ALISON had two drinks in her, and the other car ran the stop sign. She just didn’t get out of the way fast enough. But now a little boy — not her own — is dead, and Alison finds herself trapped under the twin burdens of grief and guilt, and feeling increasingly estranged from her husband . . .
CHARLIE, who has his own burdens. He’s in a job he doesn’t love so that Alison can stay home with the kids (and why isn’t she more grateful for that?); he has a house in the suburbs and a long commute to and from the city each day. And the only thing can focus on these days is his secret, sudden affair with . . .
CLAIRE, Alison’s best friend. Bold where Alison is reserved; vibrant where Alison is demure, Claire has just had her first novel published, a thinly-veiled retelling of her childhood in South Carolina (which is also Alison’s, in a sense). But even in the whirlwind of publication, Claire can’t stop wondering if she should leave her husband . . .
BEN, an architect who is thoughtful, kind, and patient. And who wants nothing more than a baby, or two — in fact, exactly the kind of life that Charlie and Alison have . . .
Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: everything is about to change.

Comments: Christina Baker Kline’s Bird in Hand is a novel where not much happens, but what happens could happen to almost any of us, even if we’d rather not think about it. What it’s ultimately about are the things we’d rather not think about, and the questions we really aren’t sure we want to ask ourselves, because then we might have to answer them…and the answers could change everything.

Kline’s character-driven domestic drama focuses on the shift in relationship dynamics among four people – two couples with a long history together – over the course of a year in which one of the women is involved in a fatal car accident and the other publishes an autobiographical novel. The narrative viewpoints shift between the two women, old friends Alison and Claire, and their respective husbands, Charlie and Ben, and the structure of the novel mixes flashbacks through the couples’ shared past with the crises of their present.

The characters are, in many ways, people we’ve met before, and that helped me connect with their story. The fact that I have – not totally by choice – struggled through some of the same conflicts and life questioning that they’re going through was another attribute that made me fly through this novel; it struck several chords with me. I really wasn’t sure I’d like any of the characters early on, but gradually I developed sympathy for each of them and their place in a complicated situation.

That’s another thing that Kline does well in Bird in Hand; she recognizes that the questions we prefer to avoid can have difficult, sometimes scary, answers…and yet, those answers might be the right ones, at least at the time. We may find ourselves questioning them again later on. Bird in Hand doesn’t really say anything new, but it says it well, and is a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece of women’s fiction.

Rating: 3.75/5

An enlightening “Five Questions” interview with the author on

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Monday, July 5th: Book Addiction
Wednesday, July 7th: Lit and Life
Tuesday, July 13th: The Winey Mommy
Wednesday, July 14th: Til We Read Again
Monday, July 19th: Coffee Books and Laundry
Wednesday, July 21st: The Lost Entwife
Thursday, July 22nd: Reading at the Beach
Tuesday, July 27th: My Random Acts of Reading
Wednesday, July 28th: Staircase Wit
Thursday, July 29th: Books Like Breathing

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