Published by Macmillan on 4/10/2012
Buy from IndieBound
I have been wanting to read When Women Were Birds since hearing about it several months ago and I recently picked up a gorgeous copy of it from my local independent bookstore. It is a difficult book to resist. The paperback copies are slightly bigger than palm-sized with a handmade feel and just beg to be picked up. Last weekend I woke up feeling distant and helpless after getting distressing news from a friend the night before. Alone with my dog at 6:30 am, I picked up When Women Were Birds and barely stopped to breathe until I was finished later that morning.
“It is the province of mothers to preserve the myth that we are unburdened with our own problems. Placed in a circle of immunity, we carry only the crises of those we love. We mask our needs as the needs of others. If ever there was a story without a shadow, it would be this: that we as women exist in direct sunlight only.”
In adherence to Mormon tradition, Terry Tempest Williams’ mother left behind shelves of journals she had been keeping throughout her life. But when she sits down to read them, Williams discovers each page in every journal her mother kept is blank. When Women Were Birds is Williams’ attempt to come to terms with what her mother left behind and discover a voice uniquely her own.
“When it comes to words, rather than using our own voice, authentic and unpracticed, we steal someone else’s to shield our fear. And in my mother’s case, she let me fill in the blanks. This is my inheritance.”
Williams’ book is one that will resonate differently with readers for various reasons, as I imagine most will feel the power in her incredible words. Writing a review of such a book is difficult, though I do know this is one I will be coming back to regularly. And much like Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, this pocket-sized companion will be gifted and recommended for years to come.