The Days When Birds Come Back (Hardcover)

By Deborah Reed

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544817357, 272pp.

Publication Date: January 9, 2018

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (1/8/2019)
Compact Disc (1/9/2018)
MP3 CD (1/9/2018)
Compact Disc (1/9/2018)

List Price: 24.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


An emotionally searing novel of second chances from an author whose “gorgeous and wise prose” (Cheryl Strayed) will stay with you long after you’re done

June is in transition, reeling from her divorce, trying to stay sober, and faced with a completely stalled career. She returns to the beautiful Oregon coast where she grew up, and must decide what to do with her late and much-loved grandparents’ charming cedar-shingled home, a place haunted by memories of her childhood.

Jameson comes highly recommended to renovate the old house to sell, and from their first contact, his curiosity is piqued by June. He too is unmoored as he struggles to redefine his marriage in the aftermath of tragic loss, and over the course of the summer, his conversations with June about the house quickly turn to the personal — of secrets hidden in walls and of stories from the past half-told. Sensing connection, June and Jameson can’t seem to stop circling each other, shying away from hurt. But what can the future hold as long as they are gripped so firmly by the past?

Brimming with empathy, The Days When Birds Come Back, like the house itself, is a graceful testament to endurance, rebuilding, and the possibilities of coming home.

About the Author

DEBORAH REED is the author of four novels: The Days When Birds Come Back, Olivay, Things We Set on Fire, and Carry Yourself Back to Me. She has written two popular thrillers under the pen name Audrey Braun. Reed holds an MFA in creative writing from Pacific University and is codirector of the Black Forest Writing Seminars at the University of Freiburg in Germany. She lives on the coast of Oregon.

Praise For The Days When Birds Come Back

“Author Deborah Reed (Things We Set on Fire) plies the reader with beautiful sentence after beautiful sentence. Her descriptions of coastal Oregon’s trees and wildlife are as lush as the landscape itself. But these lovely words aren’t strung together with more regard for the individual than the whole. In Reed’s capable hands, they are building blocks of a story that will capture readers’ imaginations.—BookPage

"Reed's painterly descriptions of the Oregon Coast are so vivid and real, so beautiful and lyrical that her writing is more like a visual art form. So, approach this book less as a collection of words on a white page and more like a painting."—Portland Tribune

"Reed's story is a character-driven narrative that focuses on the grief her two protagonists suffer. It's a sad tale in which grief almost becomes overwhelming but in which the reader is saved by Reed's lyrical and elegant prose and a sense of redemption at the end." —The Oregonian

“Reed is skilled at unraveling their stories gradually, and is particularly adept at both drawing parallels between June and Jameson and depicting how the two help each other through their pain…[The Days When Birds Come Back] is an emotionally satisfying novel about the lingering effects of trauma and how people deal with guilt.” –Publishers Weekly

"Reed shines with a light hand and direct storytelling, but her characters are what make this novel move—their vulnerability, imperfect recovery, and endearing loss for words."—Booklist

"Two strangers, each harboring guilty sorrow over past losses, offer each other solace in this introspective novel from Reed."—Kirkus Reviews

“In Reed’s achingly exquisite latest, two scarred-by-life souls—a divorcee and a man toppled by tragedy—hide from their pasts by together renovating an old Oregon house. About the love we’ve lost, the mistakes and secrets we're afraid to reveal, and a haunting reminder that second chances aren’t just given—we have to be brave enough to earn them.  A blindingly beautiful book.”
Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Cruel Beautiful World
The Days When Birds Come Back haunted me every day I read it, and has continued to ever since.  I don’t believe I’ve ever read such an exquisitely painful story that has on a daily basis so affected the way I interact with other humans, especially my dearest loved ones. This is a novel that makes me want to pay better attention.”
Bonnie Nadzam, author of Lions and Lamb
"The Days When Birds Come Back is a gorgeous meditation of the importance of paying attention to one thing in particular: the indelible map our past creates. In Reed’s dazzling new novel, we find a mesmerizing melding of two very different tales: one involving random tragedy, another based on misunderstanding, both bound by the power of regret. As the stories merge, we discover that the inescapable insistence that we must face our truth, change our map, and thereby find the truest and best course for the future. In this raw and honest journey of addiction, love, trauma, and redemption, we discover that lives can be mended, maps re-drawn. Whether by adopting a child, restoring a home, or by acknowledging a love that deserves it, Reed has reminded us that we can only fully claim our lives when we embrace our history."
Laura Pritchett, author of The Blue Hour winner of the PEN USA Award
“Deborah Reed's story of two people struggling to integrate past pain with a tantalizing future is as misty and heart-stopping as the Oregon coast itself. And in the wonderful, difficult June Byrne, she has created one of the most complex and relatable portraits of a recovering alcoholic in memory.”
Kristi Coulter, author of Nothing Good Can Come from This
“A haunting story of love and loss, the days when birds come back is the kind of book that you sink into on the first page and don’t want to leave. Deborah Reed’s characters are both flawed and sympathetic, and their struggle to make terms with the past gives this novel a wonderful urgency.”
Jane Delury, author of The Balcony