Blue Birds, Carolyn Rose Starr’s latest novel in verse, releases in a couple of months. I have anxiously awaited this book since I read her first book, May B. I fell in love with Caroline’s dear courageous heroine there, and she’s made me do it again with the courageous girls in Blue Birds.
I’m honored to be one of the bloggers sharing with you in a week-long celebration, and giving you a wonderful opportunity (see the end of this post) when you pre-order the book.
Blue Birds is at its heart a story about strangers making a connection. But it’s also about what it feels like to be a foreigner, to experience the strangeness and uncertainty of being in a place where nothing is familiar. To honor that theme, my post is about a time when my husband and I were strangers.
For our 20th wedding anniversary, we decided that we needed to take a risk and leave the continent for the first time in our lives. A visit with a travel consultant convinced us that we could plan a trip to Greece on our own. We did just that, and set out on a grand adventure in a very foreign- feeling land. It was indeed a grand adventure, but from the start we knew that we stood out as different, and it wasn’t only the camera we carried, the broad- brimmed hats we wore, or our pale skin.
We tried hard to use the Greek we had struggled to learn, but it seemed a matter of pride all over the Peloponnesus to communicate only in English with the foreigners. This capable attitude was evident everywhere we went.
There was one experience, though, with which left us with no words in any language, no way to help or comfort; our presence was burden and intrusion. We were the unwanted strangers.
We drove up the west coast of the peninsula on which we had spent most of our two-week trip, finally getting onto our first Greek freeway. We were headed to a town in the mountains with a cog railway, a place of unique historical interest, and mountain scenery different from the seaside where we had spent most of our time. The freeway made us realize just how far we were from familiar situations if the car broke down or something else happened. The exits were so far apart that I began to fear we’d never get off this highway.
At last we found what we thought must be our exit, as it had the right place names on it, and with relief we headed up into the wild mountains on the small winding road. Then we saw the smoke rising from charred trees. The farther up we traveled, the more the land around us was blackened, smoking, desolate, everything gone, and quite recently.
We kept on, not knowing what else to do, pulling off once to let a small truck pass, filled with water cannisters and somber young men. We knew for certain then that this was no small brush fire, but one of devastating magnitude. We felt such intruders here, so foreign, so out of place and unwelcome to theprivate tragedy we witnessed when we arrived at the only building standing for miles.
It was a taverna, alone in the blackened landscape. This was our destination, the town where we had booked a room for the night, simply gone. We turned away, heading back down the mountain to uncertainty, but knowing that whatever we had to go through to find a place to stay that night, we were still the fortunate strangers.
This post is part of a week-long celebration in honor of the book Blue Birds. Author Caroline Starr Rose is giving away a downloadable PDF of this beautiful Blue Birds quote (created by Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios) for anyone who pre-orders the book from January 12-19.
Simply click through to order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, IndieBound, or Powell’s, then email a copy of your receipt firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, January 19. PDFs will be sent out January 20.