Susan Mills reads from ‘On the Wings of a Hummingbird’ at Putney Library
Susan Mills

Susan Mills reads from ‘On the Wings of a Hummingbird’ at Putney Library

PUTNEY — Join Newfane author Susan Mills for a reading of her new novel On the Wings of a Hummingbird on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m., at Putney Public Library, 55 Main Street. Masks will be required for this indoor, in-person event.

As a Spanish-speaking immigration attorney for 20 years, Mills prepared asylum cases for thousands of immigrants from Central America with a focus on unaccompanied minors. Some of her family members journeyed from the war-torn countryside of El Salvador to the U.S.

On the Wings of a Hummingbird, her first novel, is the story of 15-year-old Petra, who must grow into the lessons of the Mayan hummingbird as she carves her future out of a childhood scarred by violence.

Petra's life has been upended by local gang violence in her small Guatemalan village. Her childhood friend Emilio had a hand in their friend Justina's murder, and his father is the local gang leader's right-hand man. Betrayed by Emilio and abandoned by her mother, who has fled to the U.S., Petra now fears for her own life. Petra ultimately flees to the U.S., but the pressures follow her there.

As she attempts to reconcile with her mother over the abandonment, Petra is alarmed that her mother disregards the danger when Emilio shows up near their home. The novel explores forgiveness and redemption, how to heal oneself and find a future of integrity with friends and community who have participated in atrocities.

Nancy Braus from Everyone's Books says that On the Wings of a Hummingbird is “an essential read for anyone who wants to understand more deeply the reasons people leave their ancestral homes in Central America, in this case, Guatemala, and make the dangerous journey north. The main character, Petra, is a smart, thoughtful teen living with her caring Indigenous grandparents in a small town in rural Guatemala where brutal gangs have been terrorizing residents, especially young women.

“It becomes clear over time that her refusal to give in to gang demands is endangering her grandparents, so she needs to flee to join her mother in the United States. The process of eluding the gangs and making a new life is a challenge, but Petra's insights into her experience will stay with the reader for a long time.”

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