The Year the Swallows Came Early
by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Synopsis from Goodreads: Eleanor "Groovy" Robinson loves cooking and plans to go to culinary school just as soon as she's old enough. But even Groovy's thoughtfully—planned menus won't fix the things that start to go wrong the year she turns eleven—suddenly, her father is in jail, her best friend's long-absent mother reappears, and the swallows that make their annual migration to her hometown arrive surprisingly early. As Groovy begins to expect the unexpected, she learns about the importance of forgiveness, understands the complex stories of the people around her, and realizes that even an earthquake can't get in the way of a family that needs to come together.
Kathryn Fitzmaurice's lovely debut novel is distinctively Californian in its flavor. Her rich characters and strong sense of place feel both familiar and fresh at first meeting—and worth revisiting, again and again.
What I think: Kathryn Fitzmaurice has a very poetic voice. Some of my favorite sentences from this book: "The morning heat curled around us", "The hum of her ceiling fan filled the room, sending drifts of lavender smell in every direction and lifting the bottom of the curtains slightly, as if they were breathing" and "I knew it just as sure as those humpback whales know the way to Mexico when they swim there each winter to find a family". This book is a great read and I was particularly fascinated with the father character. Fitzmaurice has said that her protagonist "didn't come to a place of forgiveness by the end, but in the final draft, she finally did." I love this about writing, the discovery.