Do you remember reading books when you were in middle school and getting completely caught up in the world between the pages? As an avid reader during my tween years, I was always on the look out for the perfect book. I would have been delighted with The Aviary if it had been around when I was 12. The reader immediately connects with Clara, a seemingly shy and timid girl living in Maine in the 1800s. Clara is not your average girl. She does not have any friends or attend school due to a heart condition. Her mother is terrified that she will overexert herself, so she insists that Clara stays indoors with only books for company.
Clara’s mother is not the evil stepmother of fairytales; on the contrary, she is kind and caring. Her mother loves her and wishes to protect her from the outside world, but Clara longs to learn the truth about the father and have the freedom to lead her own life. She feels like the birds caged outside in the aviary and longs to break free.
After meeting another girl in her neighborhood, Clara slowly begins to gain confidence and independence. Together, the two girls investigate a horrible crime that took place decades ago and they slowly discover the seemingly unbelievable history of the Glendoveer family.
This book reminded me a little bit of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. There’s a fantastical element to the story, but it reads almost more like historical fiction than fantasy. The Aviary is beautifully written. Even though Clara speaks in an old-fashioned manner, her sense of humor and sweet demeanor will appeal to any modern day reader. The mystery at the heart of the story will keep you reading, but the book also brings up good points about independence and family and friend relationships.
Recommendation: 5 out of 5 lupines