Review: Birdie & Jude
A moving novel of loss, regret, denial, and discovery on Galveston Island, from the author of Opal’s Story and The Ember Months.
Birdie has lived to regret many of her decisions, but she doesn’t regret offering a stranger, Jude, shelter from an approaching hurricane. Their serendipitous meeting will form a bond that will change their lives forever.
In a character driven story with memories of the protests and inequality plaguing the 1960's, Birdie’s reached middle age and questions her life. Jude is striking out on her own, but has been derailed by a fatal accident claiming her only friend. Although their backgrounds and lives are vastly different, they recognize something in the other that forges a friendship.
As their relationship solidifies, they share glimpses of their pasts. Birdie is a product of the '60's, an aging hippie, with a series of resentments. She had a sheltered childhood in an upper class family. Her parents longed to see her make the Texas Dip at the Mardi Gras ball. Jude, however, entered foster care as an infant. Her parents, victims of a murder/suicide, left her and her siblings orphaned and separated.
There is something about their connection that strikes Birdie as familiar. Can souls know each other in different lives? Birdie struggles with the awareness that she has had regrets and hasn't lived an authentic life, while Jude faces an uncomfortable truth about her own. It has all the feels.
Birdie and Jude meet as tragedy waits at the door. A hurricane threatens the small island community where Birdie has spent most of her life. Jude is sitting on a beach, hoping her own death comes quickly and quietly. Together, the two form a friendship that gives them a touch of purpose and comfort as the end draws nigh. Birdie comes to believe that Jude is a long-lost friend brought back to her at the end of her life.
This is a story of loss and tragedy, much sadder than I anticipated. We're not given a lot of hope or resolution. The friendship comforts them both and gives each a chance to sing their swan song. The dialogue is very confessional (and a little clunky) as it exists to mainly let each character make their last impression on a world that both cares and doesn't care. The story is lovely even if it is a bit gloomy.
Perhaps my favorite piece of this story is the foreword. Ms. Moore's plea for us to abandon racism is beautifully stated and had me in tears. I hope she continues to explore those themes as it's obvious the issue is part of her heart. I think she still has much to say and I'd like to read it.
Author Bio – Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it, and reading about it. The atmosphere of the south draws her in and repels her. The characters are rich with dysfunction and redemption, real. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels: The Sabine Series, Sabine, Billy’s Story, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colors of Tender Whispers, The Ember Months, Birdie & Jude, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road. In 2018 she also released a new genre for her, A Dickens of a Crime, a Meg Miller Cozy Mystery. She has authored one nonfiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake. She blogs on her web site http://www.phyllishmoore.com. Follow her on Pinterest and Facebook.
Phyllis is a retired social worker and former owner/operator of a small bed and breakfast. She’s lived in the rural areas and cities of south Texas. She currently lives on Galveston Island with her husband, Richard.
Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/phyllishmooreAuthor/