Set in North Carolina and points west, Kim Church’s debut novel Byrd is the story of Addie Lockwood, an independent woman who, at 33, gives birth to a son and surrenders him for adoption in secret, little imagining how her decision will shape her life or the lives of others.
Set in North Carolina and points west, Kim Church’s debut novel Byrd is the story of Addie Lockwood, an independent woman who, at 33, gives birth to a son and surrenders him for adoption in secret, little imagining how her decision will shape her life or the lives of others. Told in short chapters, sharply drawn vignettes, and Addie’s letters to her son, Byrd is about making and living with the most difficult, intimate, and far-reaching of choices.
“Brilliant writing—lively and heartbreaking at every turn.”—Jill McCorkle, New York Times bestselling author of Life After Life
“This protagonist is so appealing, with her unflinching moral candor, her mistakes based on generous instincts. The prose is lilting, joyous. This novel–about young lives that start out full of promise, falter, then recover–is a hard luck story that will make you feel good.”—Debra Monroe, author of On the Outskirts of Normal: Forging a Family Against the Grain
“Addie is a particular woman — a character that will linger and grow beloved — but she could also be your sister, your roommate from college, a friend in the neighborhood. … Kim Church has imagined a world of good people missing the mark as good people sometimes do. They're familiar, a comfort. I will never forget the impact of the final pages.”—Patricia Henley, National Book Award finalist and author of Other Heartbreaks
“A richly layered story that explores motherhood and its attendant relationships in ways that break new ground, both stylistically and thematically. Already recognized for her work in the short story form, Kim Church should gain national attention with this original and important novel.”—Angela Davis-Gardner, author of Butterfly's Child
Why do you think Addie chooses not to keep her son? Do you think she makes the right choice? Why or why not?
What do Roland and Addie represent to each other?
What is Elle’s role in this story? Dusty’s?
What does William Glass represent to Addie? How does he change her story?
One recurring theme is how little people actually know about one another. What critical pieces of information are these characters missing about each other? What critical information are they missing about themselves?
In what ways do secrets shape the story?
What does motherhood mean to the characters? What does fatherhood mean?
Most of the novel’s settings are real places—except for Carswell, North Carolina. Why do you think the author chose to fictionalize Addie’s hometown?
The story is written largely in present tense. What effect does that have?
What do books signify for Addie? How does this change over time?
What is the role of art—in its broadest sense—in the lives of the characters?
Like a song or poem, the novel contains repetitions of certain phrases, images, and events. What repetitions do you notice, and what is their effect?
One point of view notably missing from the book is Byrd’s. What is the effect of that omission?
Flash forward: where do you envision each of these characters five years after the final scene?