Review: Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose
Caroline Starr Rose brings a historical mystery to life in her beautifully crafted novel in verse, Blue Birds.
It is 1587 and 117 English men, women and children are left on the lush island of Roanoke near the shores of what is now Virginia.They expected fertile soil and friendly people. They were not disappointed in the land. But, the friendly Native people had become understandably jaded. The English who came before them brought disease and death to their island.
Little is known about what occurred. We do know a dire situation existed in both Roanoke communities, hostilities ran rampant with supplies not arriving for the colonists. The governor left the colonists behind to return to England to seek assistance. If the colonists left the island, they were to carve their location on a tree. If in danger, a cross would be included. Three years later the govenor returned to find CRO carved without a cross.
Some of the colonists are believed to have left Roanoke making it to the island of Croatoan (now Hatteras, North Carolina). All else is a mystery. They became known as the Lost Colony.
Caroline Starr Rose’s poetic language brings flesh and emotions to both the English and the Roanoke Indians. She imagines two young girls—each with a point-of-view in this free verse novel—who build a bridge of friendship and love.
Alis, who comes from England, places her feet onto the new world's soil with these thoughts.
It is magic here . . . fragrance and living things.
In the quiet of the woods, Alis meets Kimi of the Roanoke tribe. This spot becomes their secret meeting place. Through their sweet friendship, thoughts form putting a wedge between Alis and the hatred her people feel toward Kimi's. Both girls discover the humanity in one another, see the gentle love of their families, see the anger and pain each side causes the other. Alis feels the threat that tangles itself about her.
Shadows reach like snakes,
deepen into darkness.
I clutch my cloak,
though the evening stifles without a breath of air
Alis embraces what the island offers.
But I’ll take a bit of extra work
for the forest’s wild beauty,
The open skies a fair trade
for the luxuries we’ve left behind.
Kimi works among the bean plants thinking of how the bean’s roots interweave among the corn.
More gently now,
I pat the soil around the bean,
trace its growth from roots
to spindly stalk interwoven with the corn.
Beautiful verse and a heartfelt story of friendship blooming in the midst of hatred blend together to create a novel based on history, steeped in beauty. Caroline Starr Rose offers a possible unravelling of the mystery of the Lost Colony, one with hope and passion at its core.
Disclosure: Finished copy provided by the publisher.