When Nightbird by Alice Hoffman came up on Netgalley, it sounded really intriguing. Set in Sidwell, a quiet Massachusetts town, a young girl called Twig has isolated herself, as has her mother. The two women do not accept social invitations, they do not attend town functions, and most adamantly, they do not attend the annual performance of a play on the witch of Sidwell. James, Twig’s secret brother, and every male in their family before him, were cursed by that very witch.
Then one summer, a family with two daughters moves into the house right next to Twig’s. The house previously occupied by the witch. Julia, the younger of the daughters, begrudgingly convinces Twig to be her friend, and it changes everything, not just for Twig and her family, but for the entire town of Sidwell.
This book hooked me from the opening, not with story, but with setting. I happen to live in Massachusetts, which is currently covered with (almost but not quite) record breaking snow accumulation. I don’t anticipate seeing grass until July at the earliest. However, Massachusetts is gorgeous in the summer, and this book helped me remember what that actually looks like. Twig’s family lives in an apple orchard in the woods. Twig and Julia spend a huge chunk of their summer building a garden and playing near the lake. It was exactly what I needed to read about to remind me why I chose to live here.
Even though the setting drew me in, obviously there had to be a good plot too. This book was filled with everyday magic and I loved every page of it. In a town filled with secrets and suspicions, a twelve year old girl’s take on it was honest, which made her the perfect narrator. Plus, there was lots of fancy tea drinking. And children interested in history.
Nightbird is a middle grade book, but I think for adults who appreciate well-written stories filled with magic and all types of love, this is a 108-page read you won’t want to miss. Alice Hoffman blew me away with this book, which I definitely intend to purchase for my middle school classroom. I highly recommend this book.
Nightbird was released last Tuesday. You can purchase a copy here.