Michele Wallace Campanelli
Officer Laura Camp lives in a beautiful town in Palm Bay, Florida. With gorgeous palm trees, sunny weather, and situated near the beach—it was a great place to call home.
Palm Bay is no stranger to beautiful wildlife, where countless endangered species are kept in incredible preserves. With such a rich biodiversity of animals, most of the residents don’t bat an eye when they’d occasionally come across a vulture. While large and ominous looking, many usually avoid humans.
However, something strange has happened. One by one, the vultures began to attack without warning, and many victims died from their sharp talons and beaks. Oddly enough, many of these predators congregated in the Juvenile Detention Center where Laura works. Can Laura and her fellow officers fend off these winged beasts while keeping the peace between two notorious teen gang factions in the facility, or will the vultures have their day?
“Birds of a Feather” by Michele Wallace Campanelli is a tremendous work exploring misunderstood creatures. While vultures play a crucial role in the story, their nature parallels one of its main characters—specifically, teen boxer Jack “the Mack” Stubins. Jack, a member of the Union Gang, is currently held in JDC for stealing a neighbor’s car and taking it out for a spin. Large and dangerous, he earned his moniker in the ring by delivering devastating knockouts to his opponents without mercy.
However, the Union Gang isn’t the only crew running the town. The Crown is another crew that has bad blood with the former. With many of the offenders in the facility belonging to either faction, it’s clear that the JDC staff have their work cut out for them as they try to prevent any incidents between the delinquents while keeping dangerous vultures at bay.
Exciting, thrilling, and well-paced, the author does an excellent job of showcasing the dangers of teen gangs while providing a nuanced look at how they’re still kids at heart. Laura is a solid yet compassionate main character who knows that Jack is more than what meets the eye. Despite many officers’ doubts about Jack, his strength and integrity essentially win people over, making him of the book’s most admirable characters.
The book also references Hitchcock’s 1963 classic film while creating its narrative without issue. If you enjoy an exciting thriller with engaging characters and a solid plot, this story is worth every penny!
– The Moving Words Review
Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 3, 2024