One of our recommended books for 2020 is 142 Ostriches by April Dávila

142 OSTRICHES


Part love letter to the California desert, part intimate portrait of a family reckoning with drug abuse and denial, April Dávila’s beautifully written debut captures the anxieties of a young woman who suddenly bears responsibility amid great stress …

When Tallulah Jones was thirteen, her grandmother plucked her from the dank Oakland apartment she shared with her unreliable mom and brought her to the family ostrich ranch in the Mojave Desert. After eleven years caring for the curious, graceful birds, Tallulah accepts a job in Montana and prepares to leave home. But when Grandma Helen dies under strange circumstances,

more …

Part love letter to the California desert, part intimate portrait of a family reckoning with drug abuse and denial, April Dávila’s beautifully written debut captures the anxieties of a young woman who suddenly bears responsibility amid great stress …

When Tallulah Jones was thirteen, her grandmother plucked her from the dank Oakland apartment she shared with her unreliable mom and brought her to the family ostrich ranch in the Mojave Desert. After eleven years caring for the curious, graceful birds, Tallulah accepts a job in Montana and prepares to leave home. But when Grandma Helen dies under strange circumstances, Tallulah inherits everything—just days before the birds inexplicably stop laying eggs.

Guarding the secret of the suddenly barren birds, Tallulah endeavors to force through a sale of the ranch, a task that is complicated by the arrival of her extended family. Their designs on the property, and deeply rooted dysfunction, threaten Tallulah’s ambitions and eventually her life. With no options left, Tallulah must pull her head out of the sand and face the fifty-year legacy of a family in turmoil: the reality of her grandmother’s death, her mother’s alcoholism, her uncle’s covetous anger, and the 142 ostriches whose lives are in her hands.

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  • Kensington Books
  • Paperback
  • February 2020
  • 304 Pages
  • 9781496724700

Buy the Book

$15.95

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About April Dávila

April Dávila is a fourth generation Californian and author. Her mother’s family established a Sacramento Valley dairy farm in the 1880’s and she has lived briefly in places as far flung as Ecuador, the Caribbean, and the Marshall Islands, but always comes back to California. She studied marine biology at Scripps College before going on to study writing at USC. An attendee of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and past resident at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, she runs LitWeekLA, a weekly newsletter covering Los Angeles area literary events.

Author Website

Praise

“A story told with depth and beauty about the many things we inherit from our families. Davila’s characters are familiar, yet unforgettable, and I’m waiting patiently for what she writes next.” —Wayétu Moore, author of She Would Be King

Discussion Questions

1. Consider the role of men in this story. What kind of partner do you think Tallulah will end up with?

2. Why do you think the birds stop laying eggs?

3. Why is Tallulah so reluctant to share her inheritance?

4. How has substance abuse affected the Jones family?

5. Is Tallulah a good person?

6. In what ways is Sombra like other small towns? In what ways is it different?

7. How would the story be different if it were told from Uncle Steve’s perspective? What about Aunt Christine’s perspective?

8. One of the main themes of the story is motherhood. Consider how Tallulah’s mom, Aunt Christine and Grandma Helen differ in their mothering styles. What are the repercussions of their parenting?

9. How would the story be different on another type of ranch? A cattle ranch? Chickens?

10. What’s your opinion of Laura’s whiskey glass theory?