Friday, September 18, 2009

"Bird in Hand"

Christina Baker Kline is the author of four novels: Bird in Hand (just published by William Morrow), The Way Life Should Be, Desire Lines, and Sweet Water. She is Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University, and lives outside of New York City.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Bird in Hand and reported the following:
Page 69 of my new novel, Bird in Hand, is a turning point in the story.

The novel opens with a car crash: Alison, driving back to her home in the suburbs from New York City after a party, gets into an accident, and a child dies. Her husband’s first reaction, when she calls him, is accusatory: “What did you do?” And Alison suddenly realizes that something is deeply wrong in her marriage.

On p. 69, it’s the morning after the accident. Alison, dazed, is standing in her kitchen when she hears a knock at the back door. Her resolutely chipper next-door neighbor, Robin, is “tentatively waving the fingers of one hand, anemone-like, through the glass.” Alison winces; the last thing she wants to do is talk to Robin, who knows about the accident but not about the child’s death. But when Robin hands her a foil-wrapped loaf of banana bread, Alison is surprised at her reaction:

The loaf was still warm, and somehow comforting in Alison’s hands: the solid heft of it, its mammal warmth. “Robin – thank you.” How kind. Alison felt a tickle in the bridge of her nose.

Oh no; she was going to cry.

Robin took the loaf from Alison and placed it on the counter. Then she clasped her hand and led her to the table. “How about some coffee?” she said gently.

What Alison discovers over the next few weeks is that some of the people she loved and trusted most in her life will let her down, and people she barely knows will come through for her in unexpected ways. Robin’s simple gesture in this scene, her instinctive kindness, is exactly what Alison needs. As the story unfolds, the reader learns that the accident has set in motion a series of events that changes the lives of all of the central characters. This moment, on page 69, marks Alison’s dawning realization of this change.
Browse inside Bird in Hand, and learn more about the author and her work at Christina Baker Kline's website and her blog on writing and the creative process.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue