Friday, May 8, 2015

Review: That Birds Would Sing by Joanna Franklin Bell


Things are not always what they seem… and for April Jones, reflecting on her adolescence, deception and truth can feel horribly the same.

When an unexpected obituary in her home town newspaper brings on a flood of memories, April recalls the freshman year that changed her forever, describing the beginning of high school as "a trip across an ocean that would take four years to cross, where there was no option to turn around. If you wanted out, you had to drown."

There was Jasmine, the unknown beauty with the terrible secret, and Alec, a dangerously fearless boy tangled in forbidden knowledge. There was a special student, wounded and naïve, whose scattershot development had outpaced her intellect, and a complicated, brilliant teacher with a fateful Achilles heel. April battles herself to make sense of their journeys and her own, remembering the world that once fell apart around them all as they struggled to grow up. She distills her memories into the very elements that make her heartbreaking recollections so turbulent and their brutal impressions so lasting.

April's dissection of her coming-of-age journey is a laid-bare tableau of society's rigid expectations that are increasingly at odds with the spectrum of ways adolescents change, grow, fall, fail and triumph… and the secrets with potential to destroy those lives in an instant.

Publication Date: April 22, 2015

That Birds Would Sing was an unexpected gem of a book! This is probably one of the best coming of age novels I’ve read in a long time. Bell is a talented writer and there were so many quotes that I loved while reading that I had a hard time narrowing down my favorites.

April was a good choice as a narrator. She’s the “mousey” girl who is always on the outskirts in her school. She’s a watcher and has the ability to zero in on her classmates’ flaws as well as their hidden gifts. The characters circling April were all developed well and I found myself drawn into the small and big dramas of high school.

Bell covers a lot of heavy topics over the course of her novel. Her writing is very raw and I’ll be honest some of the stuff was very difficult to read about. I had to almost take a mental breather and remind myself that these were fictional characters in order to keep my heart from breaking. She touches on topics like bullying, special education, sex roles, teen drug and alcohol use, and violence against women. One particular quote that touched me was “a few girls whispered rape, but didn’t shout it.” The book was filled with poignant insights and a lot of the quotes I couldn’t get out of my head.

This book will appeal most to reads of literary fiction and coming of age stories. Bell is a talented and perceptive author and I can’t wait to read more of her works.

Rating: 5/5 Stars


  1. EEEEEP! Off to look at it on Amazon :) Thanks for sharing. Super awesome review, Heather! WRITE ON!

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