Q&A with The Bird Sisters Author Rebecca Rasmussen
The Significance of Birds
RH: Birds play such an important role in the book both literally and figuratively. What is the significance of birds to you?
RR: Once, when I was a girl, a robin flew into our sliding-glass door while my brother and I were watching television. My mother opened the door and scooped up that sweet little bird, made a bed out of warm towels, got my brother and me into the car, and drove across town to Bird Lady's house. I don't know if that robin lived or not, but for a long time I wondered about him and about the lady who made a life out of saving birds. Probably every town has a bird lady, and in every town birds fly into windows and windshields. Sometimes people do something about it. Sometimes they don't. I think what you do when you encounter an injured bird (or animal) says a lot about who you are. I am a person who gathers up warm towels like my mother. I am a person who loves birds. In the mornings, I like to watch the little finches in our oak tree. I marvel at how clever they can be. How quick-footed. How zippy. To me, the poet Mary Oliver says it best about a little injured gull she and her partner M tried to rescue. "Bird was like that ... startling. Elegant. Alive."
RH: The bond between Milly and Twiss is the lifeline of The Bird Sisters. Do you have any siblings?
RR: I have four brothers -- one older and three younger. Erik, Cole, Travis, and Brenner. My brothers are absolutely wonderful, and I know I don't tell them that enough. There is an eleven-year gap between Brenner and me, which could have been difficult but has been joyous instead. I remember one summer I was away at camp for two months, and when I came home in August, somehow Brenner had turned from a baby into a little boy. I watched him positively run up the stairs, which only a few months before had been gated to prevent him from hurting himself. What pride! What wonder! What skinny legs! I remember saying to myself, "Remember this moment, Rebecca." Time moves so quickly, doesn't it? I adore my brothers, even if they can all out-wrestle me.