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Midnight at the Blackbird Café

  • Midnight at the Blackbird Café



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Illustrations by NICK MATEJ

Dear Reader,

The inspiration for Midnight at the Blackbird Café came years ago in a song. After hearing the Beatles’ “Blackbird” for the first time, it haunted me. I was captivated with the concept of broken wings and how emotional wounds can keep many from being able to metaphorically fly. And if blackbirds could, what would they sing to us in the dead of the night? What do we most want to hear? My answer to that question formed the heart of this book, which is about two women in the midst of grief who realize that there might be more to life — and death — than either of them dreamed possible.

This novel is set in a fictional northeast Alabama town, where magic lurks in the long shadows of Lookout Mountain, and I dearly hope you’ll find a little magic in its pages as well.

Best wishes,


Over the past few weeks, we released chapters of Heather Webber's best-selling novel Midnight at the Blackbird Café here, and now all chapters have been posted and are available online exclusively for AARP members. 

Click on the table of contents below to access them, or scroll down the page to meet the author and read brief chapter introductions, with evocative illustrations by Nick Matej.

Meet Heather Webber

Many of her 30-plus books take place in small towns, and the American South is close to her heart. Find out more about what inspires the best-selling author —and what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Chapters 1 & 2

“Why don’t you start at the beginning?” “The beginning? Well, I reckon that was the funeral. The funeral turned into a damned circus when the blackbirds showed up.”... Continue reading

Chapters 3 & 4

“When did you first notice the blackbirds?” the reporter asked. Bow Barthelemy kicked out long, thin legs. “They’ve been here as long as I have.” “How long have you worked for the café?”... Continue reading


Chapters 5 & 6

“Have you ever eaten a slice of the blackbird pie at the café?” “Yes, indeedy,” Mr. Lazenby said. “Every day for thirteen years, give or take a day here and there when the restaurant was ... Continue reading

Chapters 7 & 8

“Some people don’t want anything to do with the pie,” Summer Pavegeau said. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “My daddy, for instance. He tells me all the time it’s best to leave ... Continue reading

Chapters 9 & 10

“What initially brought you to town, sir?” “A report of a rare sighting of Turdus merula,” Zachariah Boyd said, proudly puffing out his chest to show off his Bird Nerd T-shirt. “I’m the president of the ... Continue reading


Chapters 11 & 12

“Excuse me,” the reporter said to the young woman hustling between tables. “Can I help you?” she asked, her brown eyes bright with youth, yet dim with a sorrow that told him she’d ... Continue reading

Chapters 13 & 14

“You live near here, don’t you?” “Up the mountain a bit, in a cabin on Creek Hill,” Cam Kolbaugh said. “Great area for photographing wildlife.” The reporter jotted a note. Cam adjusted ... Continue reading

Chapters 15 & 16

“You’ve lived next door to the café for five years now, but you didn’t know the blackbirds were a rare species not commonly found in the United States?” the reporter asked. “I knew ... Continue reading


Chapters 17 & 18

The reporter glanced over at the older woman at the next table. Pen in hand, she was focused on a leather-bound portfolio spread open on the table. But she wasn’t writing. A full glass ... Continue reading

Chapters 19 & 20

“Sometimes you have to know when to give in. I mean, if he hasn’t come around by now, he never will. Am I right?” The reporter stared at the marvel that was the woman’s hairdo. ... Continue reading

Chapters 21 & 22

“Beautiful property you have out here,” the reporter said. Aubin Pavegeau limped toward the small cabin that was going to be the reporter’s home for the night. A beautiful ... Continue reading


Chapters 23 & 24

The reporter was a virtual stranger in this town, yet even he’d heard of Dr. Linden’s diagnosis. It was a popular topic of conversation among the diners.“Dr. Linden, thanks for taking the ... Continue reading

Chapters 25 & 26

“Hihi!” The reporter waved to the little girl. “Your daughter is cute.” Natalie Walker finger-combed her daughter’s hair, tucking soft waves under a turquoise-and-green headband. ... Continue reading

Chapters 27-29

“The fire came as a shock,” Jena Barthelemy said. “But maybe, on closer look, it was a blessing in disguise.” “How so?” the reporter asked. Mesmerized by her lilting voice, he’d long ... Continue reading



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