In a tiny mining town in Minnesota, June begins, but life is anything but unremarkable for the people who live within the tidy residential blocks. Betty has always counted on regular visits from Claus, the married man who fathered her daughter, Elise, but now Claus seems to have disappeared. Gertrude, who marks the days with determined, deliberate walks around her neighborhood, is stunned when an unfamiliar man notices her. That man, Nicky, has just been released from a mental institution, and his precarious return to society is far from easy–especially when a group of young boys torments him. Meanwhile, three young girls find a mystery worth exploring in an abandoned house–certain the events that caused the inhabitants to flee are much more dramatic than their own ordinary lives.
Each character in Rare Birds sees his or her life change in small but dramatic ways, upsetting the even-keeled routines they’d assumed would last forever. Connecting their individual storylines is a deep and constant yearning. What they long for most is to belong: to another person, to a place. The quietly plotted story underscores the idea that what is most desired are often the simplest things: love, safety, a foothold in the world.