The Hermit Thrush Sings is a futuristic, post-apocalyptic science fiction novel that takes place in the state of Maine, which after a horrible disaster where a meteor crashes into the earth, is now a small country called Maynor. The meteor caused the release of radiation from nuclear power plants, and everything is thrust back in time. There’s no technology, people are ruled by an oppressive government, and there is no freedom. There are mutant species caused by the radiation exposure, and humans who have mutations are called “defectives,” and are sent to The Institute to live. One mutant species is the birmba, a combination ape/bear that is thought to be very dangerous to humans.
Leora is an orphan who lives with her stepmother, who following the death of Leora’s father and sister, remarried the governor. She has a younger stepsister who torments her because Leora has webbed fingers on her left hand. She lives in constant fear of being sent to The Institute. She keeps her hand hidden, except when she’s alone when uses it to draw amazing pictures which foretell the future.
When Leora overhears plans to send her to The Institute as punishment for setting free a baby birmba that was going to be sent to the government for experimentation, she decides to run away and try to find her long lost sister Reba. She’s heard rumors that Reba isn’t dead, and is in fact part of a band of rebels that is planning to overthrow the government.
This book is very suspenseful, and the reader feels carried along with Leora as she discovers her own bravery, and the special powers of her webbed hand. Review by Stacy Church