First Line Friday — The Nature of Small Birds

23 Jul

Happy Friday everyone! I am so excited to share the first line of Susie Finkbeiner‘s newest novel, The Nature of Small Birds. I have never met a Finkbeiner book I haven’t loved and am sure this one will be just as great. Have you read it yet? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Here’s the first line:

No matter how the world has changed over the course of my life, somehow crayons still smell the way they did when I was a kid.

In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy’s desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he’ll lose the daughter he’s poured his heart into. Mindy’s mother undergoes the emotional rollercoaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy’s sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family–but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.

Susie Finkbeiner is a story junkie. Always has been and always will be. It seems it’s a congenital condition, one she’s quite fond of.

After decades of reading everything she could get her hands on (except for See the Eel, a book assigned to her while in first grade, a book she declared was unfit for her book-snob eyes), Susie realized that she wanted to write stories of her own. She began with epics about horses and kittens (but never, ever eels). 

It takes years to grow a writer and after decades of work, Susie realized (with much gnashing of teeth and tears) that she was a novelist. In order to learn how to write novels, she read eclectically and adventurously (she may never swim with sharks, but the lady will jump into nearly any story). After reading the work of Lisa Samson, Patti Hill, and Bonnie Grove she realized that there was room for a writer like her in Christian fiction.

Her first novels Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother’s Chamomile (2014) have contemporary settings. While she loved those stories and especially the characters, Susie felt the pull toward historical fiction.

When she read Into the Free by Julie Cantrell she knew she wanted to write historical stories with a side of spunk, grit, and vulnerability. Susie is also greatly inspired by the work of Jocelyn Green, Rachel McMillan, and Tracy Groot.

A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (2015), Finkbeiner’s bestselling historical set in 1930s Oklahoma, has been compared to the work of John Steinbeck and Harper Lee (which flatters Susie’s socks off). Pearl’s story continues with A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression (2017) and A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era (2018). 

What does she have planned after that? More stories, of course. She’s a junkie. She couldn’t quit if she wanted to.

7 Responses to “First Line Friday — The Nature of Small Birds”

  1. Cindy Davis July 23, 2021 at 6:42 am #

    Love it! I love the smell of crayons and love how they stay the same!

  2. susiesellnergmailcom July 23, 2021 at 8:39 am #

    I’m really looking forward to reading this novel!

    • rbclibrary July 23, 2021 at 9:01 am #

      I hope to get to it in about a week.

  3. Danielle Grandinetti July 23, 2021 at 10:55 am #

    I’m looking forward to reading this one! And it’s such a great first line.

    My First Line Friday post is from The Chase by Lisa Harris:

  4. Nicole Santana July 23, 2021 at 9:32 pm #

    Happy Friday! 🙂
    I’m currently in the middle of the Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham. I LOVE it so much. So, here’s a line from the middle of the novel:
    “Frederick marched from his mother’s room with a hardened edge knotting his stomach.”
    Hope you have a great weekend! 🙂❤📚

    • rbclibrary July 24, 2021 at 5:39 pm #

      That book looks so good!

  5. Paula Shreckhise July 24, 2021 at 5:32 pm #

    Nature of Small Birds is sitting somewhere trying to get shipped to me! Ugh

    From the Prologue of Yours is the Night by Amanda Dykes:
    October 24, 1921 Chalons-sur-Marne, France
    Ceremony for the choosing of the Unknown Soldier
    There are days you live over and over again for as long as you live. October twenty fourth of 1918, just days before the unending war ended, was one of mine.

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