In A Bird on Every Tree we run through a wide range of 12 beautiful and genuine stories, all connected through the considerable pull of Nova Scotia. We meet people trying to get away from Nova Scotia and people trying to come back. Those who rebel in being different and those who wish they could be more commonplace. The salt air pulses through their veins and small-town gossip consumes the people in these stories.
People in these short stories go through the traditional human transitions of love and loss and ultimately, our never-ending search for light and meaning. In “Solstice” Bruneau writes, “It was all just people looking for light” causing the reader a deep pause. Is that what we are all searching for? Light?
In “Saint Delia” we meet the loveable and delayed Delia who wonders why her dad has to go to “For’micmurry” and hopes she doesn’t have to drive all the way there to be with him, as long car rides make her sick. She also doesn’t understand where her mother went and when she is coming back. This story brings us a point of view we don’t usually get to read and a character who takes up space in the brain long after the story is finished.
In “The Vagabond Lover” we meet an elderly woman on her death bed clutching a book of poetry, her one prized possession. We get just enough romance to satisfy the soul, a poet trying to settle down with a wandering woman who hides her feelings too much and regrets it to her death.
In “Doves” we meet a nun all the way from Lagos, Nigeria, who gets by believing that it was God’s will that sent her to the cold climate of Nova Scotia and prays for patience in dealing with its vagabonds and sinners. Against the other sister’s wishes her heart urges her to help the most undesirable.
The tying knot pulsing through these stories seems to be that you can leave, but you will still be tethered to Nova Scotia. Perhaps by some long invisible salt chain, a guiding light reminding you of where you come from, the sea-bound coast; home.
[Editor’s note: This book was reviewed from an advance copy. It will be released in September 2017.]
A Bird on Every Tree