Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Blackbird Season - Reviews from the TBR Shelf

Goodreads: The Blackbird Season by Kate Morretti

Rating: Somewhere between Good and Just Okay
Source: Library (Audio)

Description:  Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times....Until, of course, more important questions arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.
In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar...and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police have only one suspect: Nate.

Nate's coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia's creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia's class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate's case, others just don't add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate's exoneration and the truth of Lucia's disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Genre: Mystery (Kind of)

Why I Picked This Book:  I was intrigued by the blurb and I liked that there were multiple narrators for the different POVs

My Impression:  Huh... I'm not sure how I felt about this one.  Part of the problem were expectations.  I was expecting a mystery style thriller with an unreliable narrator or two.  However, there really wasn't much of an investigation and really not much actually happens.  The bulk of the book is centered around secrets and rumors that are floating around a small Pennsylvania town.  None of them are good and range from harmful to life destroying.

The characters aren't particularly likeable though I could sympathize with Alicia.  She married the golden boy and expected a fairy tale life and it didn't come to be.  Their son shows signs of being on the Austism Spectrum fairly early and from then on Alicia's life focuses completely on her son to the exclusion of her husband.  It's a dynamic that I think happens pretty regularly in families with young children.   Bridget seems very nice but kind of one dimensional and Nate is the type of guy that wants to be everyone's friend even if it isn't the best decision.

I was a bit frustrated as it felt like the serious topics - bullying, sexual assault and even the murder - were handled quickly or brushed aside while so much page time was devoted to who is saying what and how everyone feels.  As well I was frustrated by the date jumping. I had a hard time keeping up with the timeline though part of the problem may have been that I was listening to the audio which made it impossible to really go back and check dates.

This wasn't my favorite listen.  I did enjoy the narration by Cassandra Campbell, Gibson Frazier, Joy Ozmanski, and Rebekah Ross and I love when different POVs are handled by different narrators.  However, between the issue with the dates, the lack of investigation structure, and the rushed dealings of the serious subjects I was a bit frustrated with the book itself.  I did find the writing compelling and would give another book by this author a try but it wouldn't be top priority.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would though only if the blurb really interested me.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Yes with reservations. This is more about how gossip works and devastates and spreads versus an actual mystery so if you're okay with that you should be fine.


  1. A bit off topic but I love blackbirds-they always seem to be happy and laid back birds! We get them in our garden a lot and I love hearing their cheerful song!

  2. I feel much the same way. This is one of those books that I gave a pretty good review (I think- it's been a while) but as time has passed and I look back, I do have some issues with it. It is very much about gossip and the small town stuff,and I agree about the characters being mostly unlikable. And maybe just me, but I never felt we got a sufficient answer to the birds? Like, was she going somewhere slightly paranormal and the just dropped that angle, or was it just a little mysteriousness thrown in and she really had no other thoughts about it? I still don't know! :)

  3. This sounds a bit much for me. I would get aggravated with the characters.

  4. Thank you for a really insightful review that gives me a strong idea about the book. It sounds as if it started out with one remit and shifted during the writing to emphasise something else, instead... So the narrative arc is muddled - add to having unlikeable characters and I commend you for getting through it - I would have probably DNF'd it.

  5. I have a past due review copy of this one that I have been putting off. I wondered if audio was the way to go with it but it sounds like reading it might help with keeping the timeline straight. Sorry this wasn't better for you.

  6. I have this one on my shelf to read, but keep putting it off like Carole. I'm sorry this wasn't better. Maybe I'll give it a try one of these days.

  7. Sounds like some plus and some minuses. Jumping about on timelines can be frustrating I believe and sometimes audio does't help, but like you I like different narrators for different pov.

  8. I felt the same way about this book, just ok. I remember being confused by the POV changes and time jumps.

  9. Sounds a bit intriguing, I might check it out. 👍✨