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Reviewer: Melinda Holliday McDonald
TAGS: D. Bryant Simmons, Bravebird Publishing, Chicago, Illinois, domestic violence
How to Knock a Bravebird from Her Perch, the first novel in the Morrow Girls Series by D. Bryant Simmons, realistically explores the issues of domestic violence and the choices a young mother, with no financial resources of her own, must make.
Belinda “Pecan” Morrow is a small-town good girl who is being raised by a single father. Ricky Morrow arrives into town from Biloxi with dreams of becoming the next great boxer. Pecan is shocked when the handsome muscular newcomer focuses his attention on her. Ricky tells Pecan she is going to be his girl and they quickly become a hot item. Soon thereafter, Pecan’s father unexpectedly dies and she is heartbroken and declares that she is now all alone. Ricky reassures Pecan she has him, and vows to take care of her. By the end of the week, she is a married woman. It isn’t long before Pecan realizes she made a huge mistake marrying Ricky.
The novel immediately jumps into Pecan’s new life in Chicago as a wife and a mother of a three year-old. The author provides cursory insight into what Pecan’s life was like over the course of the three years leading up to her decision to try and leave the first time Ricky hit her. While it becomes quickly apparent that Pecan is plagued with grief over her father’s death during that time, and one day admits to herself that she doesn’t love Ricky, it isn’t clear what (if there was one) the catalyst moment is that motivates Pecan try to leave that first time. Is she just unhappy? Is she unfilled? Does she hate Chicago? Is she already being beaten and raped? The reader is left to his or own reasoning in making sense of Pecan’s decision to pack her and her child’s few belongings in small plastic bags, without a real plan. The reader is also left to surmise whether or not the day Pecan tries to leave is the first time Ricky hits her. Typically, domestic violence is not sudden; it would have been helpful to know what signs of abuse were present during those three years, which Pecan ignored. Pecan alludes to them, but they are never spelled out. While the author admittedly acknowledges that her preferred writing style is to jump right into the meat, the consequence is that the novel fails to immediately grab the reader’s emotions and tie them into Pecan’s story early on.
Most of the novel is dedicated to Pecan’s failed attempts at protecting herself and her girls from Ricky, until she finally finds the strength to fight back and unknowingly delivers a fatal blow. In that respect the novel lacks anything uplifting, and is just one paragraph after another of a woman feeling and acting helpless until she unknowingly kills her abuser, and is finally free.
Bravebird moves along at a steady pace, but reading about domestic violence does not make for light reading. There aren’t many dull moments or long, irrelevant paragraphs, and every word in the novel serves a purpose and allows the story to move well. Nonetheless, if the subject matter itself isn’t an immediate turn-off, How to Knock a Bravebird from Her Perch is a good quick read with sufficient detail and grit to make it a page turner.
Melinda Holliday McDonald, Esq. is an attorney with the federal government, specializing in employee and personnel law and privacy law. She is currently writing a book chronicling her efforts to become a mother through IVF and natural conception, after the death of her adopted son. She is an avid reader and a 10+ year member of a local bookclub – Unique Women Only (UWO). A graduate of Georgetown University and George Washington University Law School, she is currently married with two living children (one deceased) and two dogs in Maryland.