At the deteriorating Pheasant Run, the occupants keep their secrets and sadnesses locked tight behind closed apartment doors. Cassie and Viola dream of leaving their unhappy lives behind, but one woman’s plan is interrupted―and the other’s unexpectedly set into motion―when a fire breaks out in Herbie’s apartment.
McNamer is a wordsmith of rare artistry who can take your breath away with a sentence describing a fairly average habit of weather. She’s funny too, combining flawless prose with cutting cultural commentary ... But McNamer’s characters are the true prize, what with the multitudes they contain and the way their stories slowly unspool and intermingle ... Even when it hurts — and, if you have anything in the way of feelings, this novel will make you weep — Aviary is a cleansing antidote to the last few years of political and cultural turmoil, a salve to combat our still-raging health crisis, a tonic for our social media spinout ... this quietly important book offers hope as it tackles grief and isolation and our essential humanity. It is an incontrovertible fact that we live and we inevitably die. Yet, we’re here until we’re not, and it’s what we do while we’re here that changes everything. That, you might say, is the secret of ongoingness.
Like the mountain ranges that rim Pheasant Run’s hometown, McNamer’s prose reliably rises to magnificence. While her style verges on the commercial, peppered with staccato sentence fragments and chapters that end with dramatic, splashy statements that sweep the reader onto the next page, the sentiment is never cheap ... The ending verges dangerously close to happily-ever-after, but then the author stutters the timeline one final time, giving an ominous hint of the future, which is the reader’s present.
Rotating between the viewpoints of an eccentric cast...Ms. McNamer unfolds the mystery of the crime while developing a dark, at times comic, portrait of the 'final aloneness' of old age. This is, on one level, an infuriating cautionary tale about the opportunities available to those willing to fleece aging Boomers ... Why should they fight back? But by the end of this underdog novel, Ms. McNamer has developed poignant reasons that they do.