cover image Other Birds

Other Birds

Sarah Addison Allen. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-01986-8

In Allen’s charming latest (after First Frost), a motley cast inhabit a condo building on a South Carolina island. Recent high school graduate Zoey Hennessey leaves behind her father and stepmother in Tulsa, Okla., to spend the summer in her deceased mother’s apartment in the Dellawisp, named after the birds who stalk the residents. There, Zoey is disappointed to find little in the way of clues about the life of her late Cuban immigrant mother, Paloma Fernandez Hennessey, but she does encounter a cast of intriguing and quirky neighbors, including Charlotte, a henna artist raised in a cult who is at first reluctant to become Zoey’s friend and hides a major secret. Lizbeth Lime, a hoarder killed by a falling bookshelf on Zoey’s first night at the condo, providing an impetus for the plot as Zoey is hired by the manager to clear out Lizbeth’s apartment, then gets help from Charlotte. Allen skillfully weaves the various threads, as vignettes narrated by ghosts of former building residents provide further context as the plot unfurls, shedding light on the mysterious birds and absent figures such as Lizbeth’s estranged son and her reclusive sister. This will move readers. (Sept.)