Appalachian Song

Written by Michelle Shocklee
Review by Kathryn Bashaar

1943: The five Jenkins sisters, middle-aged spinsters, live in the two-room cabin in Tennessee where they grew up. Their Christian faith, their care for each other and nearby relatives, and the bounty of their land sustain them. They live quietly until a pregnant teenager appears on their doorstep with a gunshot wound in her shoulder.

The girl won’t give her name, but the Jenkinses take her in and name her Songbird, for her beautiful singing voice. Bertie Jenkins, a midwife, discerns Songbird’s condition and develops an attachment to her. Songbird reveals that her father shot her, for being pregnant by a young man who is now off fighting in the war, not knowing that he’s fathered a child. When her baby boy is born and Songbird attempts to contact his father, she endangers herself, her child, and the Jenkinses.

1973: Rising music star Walker Wylie has just discovered that he is adopted. Walker engages midwife and adoption counselor Reese Chandler to help him find his birth parents. Tennessee keeps adoption records private, but Reese manages to find the birth record that lists Bertie as the midwife who delivered Walker. Bertie, still living in that old cabin, is wary at first of re-opening old wounds. But, once she comes to trust him, Walker learns what happened thirty years ago to convince Songbird to give up the baby she loved.

This book has its flaws. Songbird’s voice is uneven in the chapters narrated by her in the first person. The romance between Walker and Reese is predictable without being well-developed. And one of the plot points felt implausible to me. But the mystery kept me turning pages, and I do recommend the book if you’re looking for a sweet, moving tale featuring Christian themes and simple but very appealing characters.