Emily Mead
June 27, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

What happens when an asocial San Francisco poet tosses his cantankerous parrot out the window and an Arizona ornithologist discovers that she’s inadvertently been working for a ring of endangered-wildlife smugglers? A whirlwind romance, of course! In Paul’s light and sweet fourth novel, a string of delightfully unlikely events (the poet becomes obsessed with the fate of his lost pet and the ornithologist devotes herself to following a flock of parrots through coastal Ecuador) jolt them out of their narrow lives. It’s clear from the start that the endearingly hapless lovebirds are spiraling into each other’s arms. But along the wacky road to romance, their foibles are as colorful as the plumage of the creatures that bring them together.

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