Ten-year-old Aggie learned the ways of the forest and its creatures from her dad, Harris. He understands that his daughter’s desire to climb trees higher and higher to investigate and sketch the nests of the birds she loves isn’t an act of rebellion against her mother—increasingly angry and unpredictable as she is plagued by mental health issues—but a desire for sanctuary from the pervading sadness clouding their home. When Harris asks Aggie if she is practicing all that he taught her about the outdoors, she says she is. Unbeknownst to Aggie and Harris, his response to her proves prophetic: “Good. Good. One way or another, we’ll figure out how you can grow those wings of yours without testing God—or your mom. No need to dare either of them to keep you alive.”
When Aggie accidentally causes a tragic fire, she believes she is “too bad for anyone to help,” and she’ll be arrested and sent to a juvenile detention center if she is caught. Fleeing into the forest, the child uses every skill her dad taught her to evade capture and stay alive.
The day Aggie disappears, 16-year-old Celia arrives from Texas to stay at her grandmother’s nearby farm. The old woman is nicknamed Mender by the locals because of her work rehabilitating wounded animals and birds. Celia is furious with her dad for tricking her into the lengthy stay and then leaving her to begin his new job. Fueled by sadness and rage, Celia is swept away by a charming and handsome 20-year-old man named Cabot. Though Mender warns Celia about Cabot, the teen ignores her grandmother’s wise counsel. At the same time, Celia also gets to know and learn how to relate to Burnaby, Aggie’s teenage brother who has autism. As Aggie confronts danger in the forest, Celia encounters threats of a different kind until their paths merge in a suspenseful, heart-pounding series of events.
CRC author Cheryl Grey Bostrom masterfully and pastorally weaves together themes of redemption, resurrection, grief, the pain of irrevocable choices, forgiveness, and spiritual reconciliation in this fast-paced, enthralling novel for adults. With a light touch, she weaves her Christian faith—and hints of her CRC background—into a satisfying narrative that refuses to succumb to easy spiritual answers or conclusions. Refreshing, realistic, and relevant, Sugar Birds is a must-read. (She Writes Press)