Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Review: When Two Feathers Fell From The Sky

Two Feathers is one of the last horse divers in the United States. World War I has ended and Wild West shows are not as popular as they once were. Two Feathers is thankful to have a regular job leaping into a pool astride her horse Ocher at the Glendale Park Zoo in Nashville, Tennessee. She's also thankful that her fellow employees are starting to feel more like family than colleagues, like Crawford, a black man who carefully tries not to overstep any perceived boundaries; the groundskeeper Clive, who is fighting his own demons from the war; and her boarding house friends Frannie and Marty, sisters who amaze the crowds with their spinning plate routine. 

One day, Two's dive goes terribly wrong. She is injured, and strange things begin happening at the park--animals fall ill, people see ghosts on the grounds, and Two receives letters from a secret admirer who might not have good intentions. 

When Two Feathers Fell From The Sky reminds readers that the boundaries between past and present are not as solid as we imagine them to be. Glendale is built on a Native American burial ground, and Two has a ghost from long ago who watches over her. The characters know that they are fortunate to have jobs and relative safety, but they also understand that the white people who come to the park view them as "exotic" or "dangerous," and it would take very little for their carefully constructed worlds to fall down. 

Verble tries to cover a lot of ground in this book, as she focuses on the challenges faced by Native Americans, people of color, and war veterans within the same book. There are moments of tragic reality, and others when it seems perfectly possible that the dead and the living might occupy the same space. At times, it felt like Verble threw in extra historical references for the sake of it, but she truly evokes a specific time and place in this book. When Two Feathers Fell From The Sky is an engaging read and a story unlike any I've encountered before. 

When Two Feathers Fell From The Sky
By Margaret Verble
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt October 2021
384 pages
Read via Netgalley

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