The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti
The day the birds fell, I dealt the tower card. Everyone always said to never read your own cards, but who...was gonna read mine?
People believe, though. I don't, but other people do. I was more interested in the idea that there was magic in the world at all. I found a book in the library and I've been reading my own cards every morning since. But two things happened at once, two days in a row, and you should know about them. First, I found a blackbird, just like the others. Perfect. Smooth. Soft. Like it has just stopped breathing. Except, this one had a hole where its left eye should have been. I've never seen that before. The next day, I did a reading and dealt the tower card, the one with that one-eyed raven on it. And then, just when I thought the world was mocking me, it rained starlings.
I try not to believe in signs. But sometimes they're just so...obvious.
The Blackbird Season is the second book I've read by Kate Moretti. Last year, I read The Vanishing Year and I fully intend to read her brand new one, In Her Bones. I saw on another review someone mentioned that black birds and tarot cards were a part of several books they had read recently. That applies to me as well. Interesting how certain things seem to trend a bit, even if the books are published at different times or in different years. In any case, yes, this book does involve some black birds - it begins with a bunch of birds (hundreds) falling on a baseball field during a game. A curious occurrence and one that had to be investigated. Naturally, the press is involved and while there, one of the reporters discovers another story - the high school baseball coach embracing a female student. Later, that same student goes missing.
As in this author's first book I read, the characters are certainly flawed and many are hard to like or sympathize with. However, I was sympathetic to the plight of this Pennsylvania town. The main industry, a paper mill, closed, the mall is dying, the kids just want to get out and move away. The baseball team is still thriving with a star pitcher, but now the coach is in trouble. He and his wife have had problems and struggles, especially since their 5-year-old son was diagnosed on the spectrum. Another friend and teacher has lost her husband to cancer and is trying to adjust to widowhood. The story is told from the viewpoints of four characters: the coach, the coach's wife, the other teacher friend, and the missing girl. As I listened to this on audio, it was very clear who was speaking. It was narrated by Cassandra Campbell, Gibson Frazier, Joy Ozmanski, and Rebekah Ross and well done.
The tale meanders around a bit, but in the end, the solution was not unexpected to me. There were enough clues to discern who and what and why. I don't think I liked this one quite as much as The Vanishing Year, but I'll be trying In Her Bones. Kate Moretti has a way of making the reader want to find out what's to come.
In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.
Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life.
And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.
Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.