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The Quiet Roar of a Hummingbird by Catherine Gentile

The Quiet Roar of a Hummingbird

by Catherine Gentile

252 pages
Seventeen-year-old Hummingbird Windsor should have known that stealing glitzy clothing in exchange for protection from an ex-boyfriend/bully wasn't a smart move. In legal trouble, she is sent to live with her estranged father in Bellesport, Maine where she must volunteer in the locked memory care unit on which her grandmother has recently been placed. Tragedy ensues. Only when misplaced trust is overshadowed by unexpected friendship does Hummingbird experience the painfully won gain known as love.

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About the Book
Seventeen-year-old Abigail Windsor, dubbed “Hummingbird” by her grandmother, would gladly trade her geeky, book smart reputation for a real friend—the kind who sticks with you no matter that you love old people so much you intend to become a geriatric doctor. After breaking up with her boyfriend, Bruce, for ripping the sleeve off her blouse, she cozies up to the “Blingers”, a clique of tough high school fashionistas, who promise to keep him from bullying her. In return, Hummingbird—Granville, Maine’s, former champion gymnast—agrees to climb through open windows of locked homes to steal designer accessories essential to the Blingers.

When the police arrest the Blingers, Hummingbird’s father, a prominent attorney, is summoned to the station. Hummingbird carefully conceals Bruce’s bullying from him and the overworked probation officer who negotiates her court-ordered retribution plan. Although risky, she agrees to combine her Service Learning Project—a requirement for graduation—with the Community Service volunteer hours she owes the court.

Successful completion means her status as a juvenile offender will disappear and her future will unfold as planned. Failure will jeopardize her graduation and subsequent placement in the highly competitive pre-med program at Tufts University. Two hitches unfold: Hummingbird must volunteer on the locked Alzheimer’s care unit where her beloved grandmother has recently been placed; during the fall semester of her senior year, she must live in Bellesport, a town up the Maine coast, with her estranged father and his new young wife.

Although the staff on the Alzheimer’s unit is unprepared for the arrival of a young volunteer with a compassionate vision of geriatric care, Hummingbird enchants certain staff members and alienates others. Worried about the dangers the unit’s laxness poses to her beloved grandmother, Hummingbird confides in Elliot, a witty, skin-headed rehab patient to whom she is dangerously attracted. She shares her concerns about the unit but avoids telling him about her criminal activities, near-rape, or the court-ordered sexual victimization therapy she detests.

Hummingbird’s father avoids certain topics, too, especially anything having to do with his mother's placement on the Alzheimer’s unit. An avid note-taker, Hummingbird develops a rating system for his rare fatherly actions, assigning positive points for his attempts at affection, and penalizing him for his shortcomings. As often as he breaks the promises he makes to Hummingbird, his wife, Solange, goes out of her way to support her. The evening Hummingbird tells Solange that she witnessed staff bullying her grandmother, Solange reports the emotional abuse to the nurse supervisor. Two staff members are put on administrative leave while the allegation is being investigated.

Word of the investigation spreads on the unit; staff shuns Hummingbird. Meanwhile, her once-lively grandmother is medicated to near lifelessness. As Hummingbird comes to terms with the parallels between her grandmother’s bullying and her own, tragedy ensues. In its aftermath, she learns that loss is never total; that misplaced trust can be overshadowed by the warmth of unexpected friendship and the painfully won gain known as love.


Related Title
  • Small Lies: A Collection of Short Stories by Catherine Gentile
    Seduction, prejudice, and the need to control prevail in Small Lies, a collection of award-winning short stories by Catherine Gentile. Motivated by the desire for a more authentic life, the characters unshackle themselves from past hurts to propel past the falsehoods they have created to find hope and resiliency.


About the Author
Catherine Gentile Catherine Gentile edits Together With Alzheimer’s Ezine, a family-friendly publication featuring practical approaches for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Her fiction has won the Dana Award for Short Fiction, and achieved finalist status in the International Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award and the American Fiction Prize Contest.



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