THE BIRD LADY
Independently Published (2020)
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (08/2020)
“The Bird Lady” by R.M. Jones, examines the life of Mary, who starts out as a 4-year-old girl at the beginning of the book and whom readers watch grow up and mature throughout the story. Mary’s life is changed when she meets a seemingly strange old woman one day while at the park as a little girl. They enjoy a touching encounter while Mary helps her feed some birds, until Mary’s mother finds her and makes her come away from the strange lady. Despite being forbidden by her mother to talk to the strange lady, Mary finds a connection with the old Bird Lady. She understands her mother’s misgivings about finding her daughter talking to a stranger, but for the first time Mary is experiencing something that feels bigger than herself. She vows to make contact with the Bird Lady again in the future, thus setting in motion a series of encounters and life lessons that would not only help the Bird Lady handle her grief over the loss of her husband, but which would help Mary understand the most important things in life.
There are several positive points about Jones’ book. Firstly, the author utilizes a tone that is very conversational and flows well. It is easy to read and, even though there are some mechanical issues, Mary’s narration is identifiable because she speaks the way most of us speak while going about our daily lives. Mary’s inner monologues help us gain insight into who she is, and though sometimes she seems to digress off topic, Mary is a character that I think a lot of readers in a general audience can relate to.
In addition to the author’s use of tone and voice, there are flashes of fantastic detail and imagery that really help readers to visualize the story – especially where characters are concerned. Mary’s descriptions of the passersby dissecting their reflections in the window of the café and, especially, of the Bird Lady, make it easy to see these characters in the reader’s mind. One example that really comes to mind actually has to do with describing Mary’s appearance early on in the book. This passage reads: “She grabs me by the back of my shirt to pull me back down onto the blanket to keep me safe. When my butt lands on the blanket, my curly hair bounces so hard that it lands with a flip across my nose.” This is such a charming and striking way to describe not only the outward appearance of a character, but of their inner personality as well. It is so easy to envision this fiery, red-headed child bouncing with excitement so hard that her is positively bouncing off her, as well. It is also something that is truly reminiscent of a four-year-old child and helps give Mary’s character some tangible authenticity.
The author has a unique voice, a unique story, and has a way of connecting the prose in a way that makes you want to keep turning pages. However, there were several things that really got in the way of being able to fully enjoy the reading experience. It is my recommendation that a professional editor may be able to really help with polishing the book so that these distractions are eradicated.
“The Bird Lady” is a quick, light-hearted, yet emotional story that truly seems to capture the essence of the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” In order to really understand a person and their life story, you have to go deeper and be willing to dive beneath the surface that you see at first glance. Jones’ book would be well-received by a general audience, because it is so relatable and easy for readers to see themselves within Mary’s narration. With a little more elbow grease, “The Bird Lady” really has the potential to become a phenomenal book!