Ava Sing Lo is the daughter of Helen, a Korean woman forced into prostitution on a segregated American army base, and one of the clients she serviced. All of her life, Ava has sensed that her mother, often depressed and withdrawn, is ashamed of her past and her daughter’s dark skin. Helen is fascinated with birds, which seem to encompass for her some vital message about fragility and survival, but Ava has been accidentally killing her mother’s pets since she was a little girl. Now Ava wants to head to the Salton Sea, the site of the worst bird die-off in American history, where she also hopes to repair her fragile relationship with her mother.
Gayle Brandeis is the author of two novels, The Book of Dead Birds, which won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change, and Self Storage, as well as a young adult novel, My Life with the Lincolns, and a writing guide, Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write. A former figure skater, she lives in Redlands, California, and has one child in college, one in high school, and one new baby.