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 recognise 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 ageing 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.
One Story At A Time
When I look back on my career as a social worker, there is one thing I know for sure; people do the best they can with what they have. However, sometimes there’s an influence, a toxic influence keeping them from making wise decisions. It could be drugs or alcohol, but it could also be a relationship or other addiction. Dysfunction is a plague for individuals who deny the toxins in their lives.
I believe stories that provoke an emotion can help people move toward living their best lives. I’m a big fan of Brene Brown. I like to listen to her speak. She uses personal stories to give examples of her findings in researching shame, joy, vulnerability and courage. In order to share these stories she becomes painfully vulnerable. It’s the basis for dealing with toxicity in our lives, giving in to that vulnerability. So, in my novels, I try to give my characters a challenge, something they have to become vulnerable about, a lesson they must learn to be more authentic.
As a human, we all have challenges. It’s the way we deal with them that separates us. Telling our truths, taking a challenge as a lesson and not a failure, and showing up for the hard work is not always easy, but it can be rewarding, the basis for a meaningful character arc in a story.
In Birdie & Jude, Birdie hasn’t lived a productive life. She’s molded herself into the person her family could accept. However, she’s never been happy about it, and she made sure everyone knew it. Because she couldn’t accept herself, she hid behind what would be acceptable to her family, frailty, illness, and limited compliance. It kept her from explaining her real feelings, because for that task, she’d have to be vulnerable.
Birdie realizes when she meets a new friend, Jude, that she’s wasted her time, living a lie. However, if you believe we all get another chance, Birdie might be able to recapture herself and live the authentic life she gave up in her twenties. This story, for me, asks the question: are there clues given to us throughout our lives that we overlook? For Birdie, the answer was yes, but did she recognize the clues too late?
Maybe it was the approaching hurricane, Birdie’s plans for a cruise with her high school friends, or Jude’s appearance on the beach, that reminded Birdie of her youth and the walls she’d built around herself to keep people from discovering her truth. When she recognizes the deception she’s perpetuated, she can recall many times with her best friend, Henry, when she could have been vulnerable. However, her family’s reactions were always extreme and isolating, again shutting Birdie down.
We all have a little bit of Birdie and a little bit of Jude in us. When readers ask me which characters are most like me, I say, “All of them.” I’m only in my head. When I see people and watch them react in different ways, I know they are a product of their previous interactions and relationships going all the way back to their childhoods. We all are. The things about characters that never make the page are in my head. I know their histories, their ups and downs, their vulnerabilities, and their addictions. As a reader, I like to imagine what the character’s past might be. What makes them behave a certain way? If it’s not spelled out for me, I can make that history match my own or someone I know. It might not match the history the writer envisioned, but it’s relevant to me.
Here’s the deal, it’s all about the reader, you, me, or anyone else experiencing the story. We all take different pieces that are relevant to us at the time and try to work them into our own lives, making that necessary arc with the main character. That’s my goal, to move us toward becoming, one story at a time.
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.
You can find Phyllis’s website here.