Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

Title:  Bird in Hand
Author:  Christina Baker Kline
Release date:  June 29, 2010
Publisher:  Harper Paperbacks
Pages:  288
Genre:  Adult fiction
Source:  Publisher, TLC Book Tours

Bird in Hand is about two married couples:  Claire and Ben and Alison and Charlie.  Claire and Alison have been friends since childhood, and when Claire and Ben realized Charlie needed to be set up, they thought of Alison, and the rest was history.  Now Claire and Ben live a busy life in New York City, while Charlie and Alison live the quintessential suburban life:  Charlie works in the city, Alison stays home with their two young children, white picket fence and all of that.  But one night, when Alison visits the city for a professional event of Claire’s, tragedy strikes.  And it is this night that begins the rapid and tragic downward spiral of both marriages.

I’ve been interested in reading this book since I first heard of it around this time last year, so when I saw that TLC was touring it, I jumped at the chance to be involved. Bird in Hand was everything I thought it would be – smart, interesting, tragic, and I loved every minute I spent with these characters.

Hands down, the most compelling thing about this book is the beautifully rendered characters.  Christina Baker Kline managed to make me care deeply about all four of them, even though I didn’t always like their decisions or agreed with the way they were acting.  In fact, two of the characters betray terribly the other two, and even through all of that, I felt connected to each of them, I felt like I could understand where they were coming from, even though they were doing something I completely disagree with.  That should go to show you exactly how well-written Claire, Ben, Alison, and Charlie are in this novel – they felt like real people, making real choices, for real reasons that only they could understand.  I loved that.

The novel is mostly focused on the present day, but every couple of chapters there is one sprinkled in as a flashback.  The reader is always provided the year for the flashback, so it really gives a strong idea of how these characters grew to be so close to each other, how these two relationships became a foursome.  This was such a perfect way of giving the reader the background for these characters, because instead of telling us how they came to be friends, we are shown how these relationships formed.  By the end of the book, you have a complete picture of their lives in relation to one another, and it makes a lot more sense how things end up where they do between the four of them.

I can’t say that I loved the ending.  I don’t know that it could have ended better, honestly, it’s just that it was rather depressing.  I suppose the whole book could be looked at as depressing, but to me it was a study in characters and relationships and human nature, and sometimes those things are depressing.  But I did finish the book with an overall feeling of sadness, even though I really, really liked the novel.

If you like reading realistic fiction that focuses on characters and relationships, you MUST pick up Bird in Hand.  It is a fabulously written novel and exactly the kind of book I can gobble up like candy.  Although a bit sad, it is realistic and makes for excellent reading.  I will definitely be reading more from Christina Baker Kline.

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17 thoughts on “Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

  1. I read this book a while ago…won it on a book website.

    My review follows:

    4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written, November 9, 2009

    Two couples, friends, an accident, a change in lives.

    Bird in Hand seemed to be more about the relationship between Ben and Claire and Charlie and Alison than about the accident that happened at the beginning of the book.

    The book was well written, but I thought it would be more about how Claire was dealing with and healing from what happened in the accident she was in.

    I enjoyed the book, though. I was also amazed how Alison’s mother could read Charlie, Alison’s husband, better than Alison herself and how she knew an affair was going on and Alison didn’t.

    The ending really had a lot of good advice and thoughtful insights.

    I will give it a rating of 4 out of 5 because I did like how the book was written with the back and forth in time, and Kline did do a good job with the events that were going on.

    1. I agree with you Elizabeth that the book was absolutely more about the relationships between the characters than about any one event, including the accident. I’m glad to see you enjoyed reading it!

  2. When you can relate to characters in spite of the fact you don’t agree with what they’re doing, you know you’re reading a great book. This one’s going on my wish list.

  3. I’m finishing this up later today so I haven’t read your review too closely but I am, so far, completely agreeing with you on this one. The characters are incredible and the relationships very believable.

  4. I loved reading how empathetic you became with these characters (what a sign of great writing!)….isn’t it interesting that we often give novel characters more empathy (and compassion) than we do people in our own lives….at least I’ve often found myself doing that!

    1. I completely agree with that… if I was friends with these characters in real life, I would not be able to keep my mouth shut about how I felt about their behavior. Yet in a book, I can’t help loving them all the same! That’s definitely a sign of a great book.

  5. I love books about marriage, because each one is so different and complicated. This definitely looks complicated!

    1. I do too, and this one shows the realities of marriage – even the worst possible things that can happen. Serves as sort of a caution, I guess you could say. Complicated is right!

  6. I can’t say that I’m really drawn to this book – it gives the impression of being sad throughout, and that’s not something I generally enjoy reading. But I’m glad to see that you did really enjoy it in spite of the ending. 🙂 Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    1. You’re right, it is sort of sad. But in a good way. If that’s possible? Lol. Either way I loved it!
      And you’re welcome! As always, thanks for having me.

  7. So glad you liked this one! It’s one of my favorites for 2010 – such a good writer, good (albeit flawed) characters. I want to read more from her too!

    1. Yes! I love flawed characters more than anything else, I think. They make a book so realistic and help me fall in love with the characters even more. The imperfections are what makes them feel true to me.

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