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Check It Out: Blackbird House

Today, I’m recommending a mystical work of historical fiction called Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman, a writer who the Times says, “tells truths powerful enough to break a reader’s heart.” This book is a departure for Hoffman, whose fiction often features characters who add a little magic into their everyday lives. In this book, she weaves together twelve stories that trace the lives of the various inhabitants of an isolated Cape Cod farm house, spanning more than 200 years.

This small farm is a place that is as enchanting and alive as the characters we meet: Violet, a brilliant girl who is in love with books and with a man destined to betray her; Lysander Wynn, attacked by a halibut as big as a horse, certain that his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots arrives to change everything; Emma, a leukemia survivor, wishing to become the person she might have been if she hadn't been so ill as a child; Maya Cooper, who does not understand the true meaning of the love between her mother and father until it is nearly too late. Each beautiful and surprising story is presided over by a white blackbird, an emblem of mourning and remembrance.

As the stories leap from colonial times to our own modern world, family after family’s lives are inevitably changed, not only by the people they love, but by the lives they lead inside Blackbird House. The past both dissipates and remains confined inside the rooms of Blackbird House, where there are terrible secrets, inspired beauty, and, above all else, a spirit of coming home. Welcome to Blackbird House.  

Check out this moving and fascinating piece of historical fiction and many more like it at the Sioux City Public Library.   

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