Book Reviews

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner

In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adoptive family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival into their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy’s desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he’ll lose the daughter he’s poured his heart into. Mindy’s mother undergoes the emotional roller coaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy’s sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family–but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code. 


Full transparency; prior to reading The Nature of Small Birds, my knowledge of Operation Baby Lift was quite limited. I’d heard of it, but really didn’t know much about it at all. This book inspired me to dig further and discover a history unknown to me. The concept of this book really caught my interest—once I began reading, I was so eager to continue!

Interestingly, this book is told from the perspective of three characters in three time periods. We hear from Linda in 1975, in the days before, and immediately following the adoption of Pham Quyen Minh (Mindy). Sonny’s perspective is in her and Mindy’s teenage years in 1988, and Bruce reflects on the lives of his adult children in 2013-2014. The author so perfectly captures each perspective throughout time. Sometimes books with multiple perspectives can be confusing, but this one was incredibly easy to follow because the narrator remained consistent for each time period.

Each character is so remarkably easy to love. I especially enjoyed the relationship between sisters Sonny and Mindy. It was done so masterfully—the two did not always get along but Sonny’s character has remarkable development. Where Sonny was initially frustrated and unsure of why Mindy would feel out of place, as an adoptee, she eventually understood that it was not about her and really became an advocate for Mindy. 

Overall, I really loved The Nature of Small Birds and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to chat with the author! She’s local to the West Michigan area, where I am from. We read this book for my August book club and invited her to join our discussion. It was phenomenal to ask questions and discuss the book with her. This is the first book I’ve read by Susie Finkbeiner and it certainly will not be my last! Put this book on your to-read list; you won’t be disappointed. Buy this book from a local seller here.

A Busy Beas and Author

PUBLICATION DETAILS: Baker Publishing Group; July 6th, 2021; 9780800739355; Historical Fiction