Instant attraction! An overwhelming emotion which keeps cluttering the mind with questions such as “what should I say”, “should I do this”, “will I see them today”, “did I make a fool of myself”, etc. This unrequited obsession goes on and on, even if the other person is oblivious to the emotions they provoke, even if the words are never spoken or feelings ever revealed. Yet, there is a palpable connection which the reader can feel without any graphic sexual content. It’s the unspoken romance which keeps us engaged.
That’s how it us between June and Jameson in The Days When Birds Come Back by Deborah Reed, two lost souls whose past hurts have overwhelmed their lives, destroying relationships and making day to day interactions almost intolerable. Two souls caught up in the solace found in nature who are finally able to reveal their innermost traumas to each other without fear of judgement, because of a basic understanding of having been there in one form or another.
A romance of a simple touch or smile, or even a post card – but it’s enough.
June who formerly found relief at the bottom of a bottle turns to her “seven comforts, none of which were a drink”. Finding herself back home in rural Oregon by the coast where it all started, she needs someone to renovate her grandparents next door cottage so she can sell it. Enter Jameson (same as the whiskey) who is also returning to the “scene of the crime”, but he finds peace in this home where he now lives while he works, appreciating the ambience of the surrounding wildlife. June, just an eyesight away, keeps her distance, yet there is a nonverbal communication even before they find their commonality. In spite of their new found affinity, Jameson has a wife, Sarah Anne, waiting for him seven hours away back home with their new foster son. June’s ex is in Australia, sent away while she was in a drunken rage. And so the summer goes, from June to September as the house takes shape and it’s time to move on.
Told through introspections interspersed with dialogue we discover the secrets haunting the two thirty five year olds who have somehow found a way to share the formerly closeted details of their damaged lives. There’s no telling here, just a gentle leaning towards the truth. Not for those who like a narrative to explain what’s happening, in this one the reader must glean the facts and come to their own conclusions.
Four stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
And one more thing, I’ve included a poem by Emily Dickinson with a similar title for your perusal. If you think the two are related, fine, if not, enjoy anyway:
These are the Days When Birds Come Back
By Emily Dickinson
These are the days when Birds come back—
A very few—a Bird or two—
To take a backward look.
These are the days when skies resume
The old—old sophestries of June—
A blue and gold mistake.
Oh fraud that cannot cheat the Bee—
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief.
Till ranks of seeds their witness bear—
And softly thro’ the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf.
Oh Sacrament of summer days,
Oh Last Communion in the Haze—
Permit a child to join.
Thy sacred emblems to partake—
They consecrated bread to take
And thine immortal wine!