“Personally, I know little about God, whoever he is.
If he is.
I realize, however, that to some, he’s downright awesome. From Gram’s description, I picture him like a raptor with a sky’s wingspan, exhaling love’s oxygen on his hatchlings, feeding them comfort and truth and power straight from his beak.” -Sugar Birds, Cheryl Bostrom
I haven’t stayed up until midnight to read a book in a long, long time. Sugar Birds was totally worth it, a true page turner from the start. What, I wondered, do a precocious, tree-climbing ten-year-old, a woman named ‘Mender’ who cares for wounded birds and a boy with autism have to do with each other?
Writer Cheryl Bostrom weaves God’s remarkable creation into the backdrop of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where rebellious 16-year-old Celia has been ‘dumped’ by her Father to stay with her Gram, aka Mender, while he heads off to Brazil for an extended work assignment. Celia’s life takes a number of turns, intersecting with an assertive show off who sweeps her off her feet.
But things are not what they seem.
An interconnected web of circumstances are mended in the end, but not before a family home is burned down and ten year old Aggie (short for Agate) runs away to the woods in fear. Luckily, she can hide in the trees, which she’s been climbing all her short life, much to her family’s chagrin. But this stubborn trait ends up saving her life and the lives of everyone around her.
Folks look for Aggie for weeks as she observes life from the trees and hides in the woods while watching from afar as her quirky brother Burnaby and Celia work together to an evil plan. There is indeed a mended eagle and in the end, Sugar Birds becomes a beautiful tale of redeemed relationships and restoration of families. It is a remarkable, remarkable read.
From the back cover:
Northwest Washington State, 1985
For years, Harris Hayes has taught his daughter, Aggie, the ways of the northern woods. So when her mother’s depression worsens, Harris shows the girl how to find and sketch the nests of wild birds as an antidote to sadness. Aggie is in a tree far overhead when her unpredictable mother spots her and forbids her to climb. Angry, the ten-year-old accidentally lights a tragic fire, then flees downriver. She lands her boat near untamed forest, where she hides among the trees and creatures she considers her only friends—determined to remain undiscovered.
A search party gathers by Aggie’s empty boat hours after Celia, fresh off the plane from Houston, arrives at her grandmother’s nearby farm. Hurting from her parents’ breakup, she also plans to run. But when she joins the hunt for Aggie, she meets two irresistible young men who compel her to stay. One is autistic; the other, dangerous.
Sugar Birds, a genre-crossing novel by Cheryl Bostrom, has received an Award of Merit from Christianity Today, tying with another title in the fiction category for the magazine’s list of top books for 2022.
Sugar Birds was also a winner in three categories (literary fiction, general fiction, and cross genre fiction) in the 2021 American Fiction Awards, sponsored by American Book Fest. In those awards, the book was a finalist in the religious fiction category. The book earned a silver medal in the inspirational fiction category in the 2021 Readers’ Favorite award contest.
Cheryl is a member of Red Bud Writers, a former columnist from back in the day with Women of Faith, and a fellow Washingtonian. You can find more of Cheryl’s writing, poetry and stunning photography on her website CherylGreyBostrom.com Sugar Birds was published by She Writes Press, August 2021.
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