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Bird in Hand: A Novel Hardcover – August 11, 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 252 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Kline’s razor-sharp novel about love, marriage and obligation is a beach book only because you could zip through it anywhere.” (More magazine)

“Kline’s unflinching gaze and lovely prose set [BIRD IN HAND] apart from the herd of infidelity/marital ennui novels. It’s well-done, thoughtful and thought-provoking.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A gripping tale about two crumbling marriages, [BIRD IN HAND] offers a realistic and, at times, heartbreaking look at love and friendship.” (RealSimple.com, Entertainment Pick)

“[Bird in Hand] exhibits an unsparing eye for the telling details that reveal how people think and act.” (Library Journal)

“Kline explores the complications of the lines and bonds between marriage and friendship with honest and complex emotions on all four narrative fronts.” (Booklist)

“In BIRD IN HAND, Christina Baker Kline looks at marriage, at parents and children, pain and sorrow, and at all the questions that life asks us. This is a wise and lovely book.” (Roxana Robinson, author of Cost)

“Christina Baker Kline is a relentless storyteller. Once she sets her hook and starts reeling you in, struggle becomes counterproductive. The narrative line is too taut, the angler at the other end too skillful.” (Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls and That Old Cape Magic)

“It is both thrilling and terrifying to read this powerful new novel and think: this could be me. Christina Baker Kline takes us on an intimate journey with her characters, one that brings us dangerously close to the hidden truths about love, trust and friendship.” (Ellen Sussman, author of Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex; Bad Girls: 25 Writers Misbehave; and On a Night Like This)

From the Back Cover

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about the choices we make, how they shape our lives, and how they can change them forever.

It was dark. It was raining. It was just an accident. On the drive home from a rare evening out, Alison collides with another car running a stop sign, and—just like that—her life turns upside down.

When she calls her husband from the police station, his accusatory tone reveals cracks in their relationship she'd never noticed were there. Now she notices everything. And she begins to realize that the life she carefully constructed for herself is as tenuous as a house of cards. Exquisitely written, powerful, and thrilling, Bird in Hand is a novel about love and friendship and betrayal, and about the secrets we tell ourselves and each other.

--This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688177247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688177249
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (252 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The thing about Bird in Hand is it's so darn page-turning GOOD! It rises far beyond a story of four people and two marriages to explore how our stories, our pasts, and our smallest gestures reveal who we are and what we need --without ever sermonizing. And it reveals how each loss -- no matter how searing -- always carries within it the the possibility of a new life.

Christina Baker Kline (how have I not read her before? That's going to be rectified!) focuses on four individuals: Alison, a suburban mother of two who is losing her bearings after a tragic accident that was not her fault and her husband Charlie, who has gradually absented himself from the marriage because of his obsession with her best friend. That friend is Claire, a flighty femme fatale and a debut author who's married to Ben, a kind and meticulous Harvard-educated architect.

It could be the stuff of melodrama...but in Kline's capable hands, it is not. In one telling passage, Kline writes about Claire, "It wasn't like Claire had fallen out of love with Ben...it as more like she had drifted, the way you do on a plastic float in a pool with your eyes closed, moving away from the edge without realizing it..." All of these characters in their own way are drifting. They are all living false lives -- some without even realizing it -- and going through the motions.

Each of these characters are flesh and blood people, complete with back story that reveals how they came to be who they are and why they make the choices they do. Whether it's Alison breathing in the aloe-scented baby wipes and antibacterial ointment she puts on her young toddler's finger or Ben doing his crossword puzzles to avoid the anxiety of building emotional chaos...
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Format: Hardcover
"Bird in Hand" is, apparently, Christina Baker Kline's fourth novel and if it's any indication, I'm sorely missing out by not having read the previous three. This is a deftly written novel. She handles uncomfortable--at times heart wrenching--topics with aplomb and her characters are absolutely pitch perfect. I will freely admit to opening the book with lower expectations since, as I admit in this review's title, I'd not been familiar with her work before. However, from the books opening hook straight through the interweaving of the characters journeys the author manages to engage and envelope you. Most surprisingly, I found the story to actually be, in a way, cathartic; we all experience the ebb and flow of love, friendship, trust and passion, and "Bird in Hand" has several moments that capture all that pain and excitement and genuine conflicting desire sublimely.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Always on the lookout for a new author, I stumbled across Orphan Train, I read it and thought that Christina was a pretty good author......her book was pretty straight forward, and interesting to read. I figured out fairy soon on that she liked to tell the story of a number of people all at the same time but in Orphan Train she kept the lines fairy straight.....you knew who was who.
As soon as I finished I ran to find another one by her........and I picked Bird in the Hand.
I really, really wanted to like this book. But I didn't.

Bird in the Hand involves two couples who are friends and whose lives are interconnected, tragedies happen, and there is fallout. Much like a war. The story line was weak if non-existent....everyone was tiptoeing around the issues, leaving the reader to constantly stop and say "now who was Claire married to ... again"... or Allison was married to Ben or Charlie and having to back track to figure it out. The writer slipped out of the now, back to college days, back to now, back and forth......trying to keep up was a lot of work.
The sex scenes seemed forced, like the one preforming the act was actually doing so to punish themselves, I don't know ...each reader may see that differently.

When the jig was up and everyone knew what the truth was did they act at all the way a scorned husband or wife would act, nope they just acted like, ok this part of my life is over....so lets get ready for act II. Alison took it way too well considering that she will be left alone to support and raise two children alone while her ex goes off to live a peter pan life with someone else. At any rate, this book just did not work for me. Would I suggest it to a friend? No
Would I read it again? No
I cannot say if I would read another book by this author.
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Format: Hardcover
bird in hand by Christina Baker Kline tells the story of intertwined couples Charlie and Allison and Ben and Claire. Pretty early on in the book an accident happens that brings the characters to a point of no return. They are forced to deal with the feelings, desires and doubts that they know will completely redefine their lives. The story centers on Allison, the woman with the perfect life. With a pretty successful career under her belt Allison is the quintessential housewife with a loving husband, daughter and son all neatly tucking into their suburban home. However, bet you knew that was coming, the more we start to gaze into her life the more we see the inattentive husband, the almost desperate 'part-time' job and the constant comparison/contrast with her best friend Claire.

In addressing Charlie and Allison's farce of a marriage Kline speaks with an honest voice about the delicate dance partners play in these unfortunate scenarios. It's this honesty that really endeared the characters to me, even the ones I didn't want to like. So much of adult life is made up of the things we don't say, the feelings we don't acknowledge and these things turn into sleeping babies we tiptoe around and avoid every day. We know they're going to wake up but we go through the motions anyway to save those last few moments of quiet. Those last few moments of how things use to be.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I whole-heartedly recommend it.

(I received this book through a [...] giveaway. All remarks are my honest opinion.)
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