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Bird In Hand    by Christina Baker Kline order for
Bird In Hand
by Christina Baker Kline
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2009 (2009)

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* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

Bird In Hand is the story of four friends, two couples, Alison and Charlie, Claire and Ben. It is about friendship, love, and marriage and what happens when the boundaries are crossed.

Alison and Claire met in grade school, became best friends, and grew up together. Claire met Ben and Charlie in London when they were all graduate students. Claire fell in love with Ben, but felt an attraction for Charlie. To keep him close, she introduced Charlie to Alison. Eventually both couples married and over the years stayed friends. Claire and Ben live in New York City while Alison and Charlie moved to the suburbs, bought a house and began raising a family.

Claire is a writer and has just had her first book published. It is based loosely on Claire and Alison growing up in North Carolina. For the past few months there has been a strain on their friendship and Alison believes it is because she refused a magazine submission from Claire. Alison attends the book party and tries to make amends with her old friend. After two drinks over the evening Alison heads home out of the city. She gets lost and disoriented in the dark, rainy night. When a car goes through a stop sign Alison's life is changed forever. A young boy in the other car is killed and Alison blames herself. She is overcome with grief and Charlie pressures her about her drinking. He has his own agenda however - he wants out of the marriage so he can be free to start a new life with Claire.

It doesn't take long for the affair to be out in the open and Alison and Ben are both reeling from the shock. Alison has given up a lot to stay at home and raise her children, but now Charlie feels Alison is not enough for him. He is attracted to Claire who has had success with her book. Claire wonders if her life would have been different had she chosen Charlie over Ben. Charlie is jealous of Ben's success, while Ben looks at the life Alison and Charlie have with their home and two lovely children and wonders why his life is so empty. As the story builds we see Alison make choices that are right for her and her children. All four friends seek personal happiness but there is a cost.

Bird In Hand shows us how our lives can change in an instant and points out that where we are in our lives doesn't necessarily mean we are meant to be there.

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