To start with, this was probably not the best choice to read in the dead of winter, amidst snow and rain and generally bleak weather, but I know the weather in Evie Wyld’s atmospheric novel All the Birds, Singing has nothing on the weather in New Jersey right now. Jake Whyte, the novel’s fiercely independent protagonist, was known to the girls in her hometown as “Brick Shit House,” not something any fifteen year old girl wants to be called. What follows in a story of exile and running that seems as if it will never end. Jake’s plight feels even more severe given the ceaseless rain and cold, biting wind throughout the story.
A sheep farmer by trade, Jake has gone through a lifetime of hurt before settling into an old house with Dog in a cold, lonely British town. The story alternates between past and present, unfolding Jake’s life slowly, between rain storms, sheep shearing, and mud. A slow moving, detail oriented novel without much in the way of continuously moving plot, All the Birds, Singing took me a bit to settle into, but once I got invested in Jake and her life, couldn’t help but keep reading despite the bleak setting and tone.
Also, can we talk about how every single edition of this book has a beautiful cover? Any of them would be enough to draw me in and wonder what the book was about. Luckily, everything inside was enough to keep me there.
Wyld’s writing was amazing throughout, too. She creates a mood that correlates exactly with her narrator’s attitude and background. I’ve seen several reviews on Goodreads/Amazon saying this was a “pointless” and “depressing” book, and if you’re not into slower moving books, this one might not be for you. If you don’t need an action packed plot and can get by on rich details and writing that draws you in so much so that you can feel the rain and the mud and smell the sheep, give All the Birds, Singing, a shot, and you won’t regret it.