I must admit, even as an avid reader and lover of all things wordy, I can easily be won over by a beautiful cover. "Don't judge a book by it's cover"? Psshaw. Beautiful covers have grabbed me when the name doesn't ring a bell, or the story is only a little intriguing. I'm an easy marketing target, I suppose. When Caroline Starr Rose unveiled her Blue Birds cover a few months ago, I think I made an audible sound halfway between a gasp and an "wow!". In person it's even more vibrant than the image above. So yes, the cover won me over, but the story, made completely of poems, kept me turning the pages.
Blue Birds is a story about unlikely friendships. The story takes place in the New World, specifically, the second set of new settlers from England and the Roanoke people who already live there. Alis, the main character from the settlement, finds her new surroundings beautiful, raw, and pure, and can't get enough of the natural world. She stumbles upon a native Roanoke girl, Kimi, and they communicate together secretly through symbols, facial expressions, touch, and gifts.
Life in the New World is tough, and there are tensions between these Englishmen and women and the woodlands people, blood is shed. As readers, we are allowed into Alis's and Kimi's thoughts, and we're given insight into the cultural biases and misunderstandings. All this, and it's written in poetry. There is a quick pace to this large historical novel, and I could have read it in just one sitting if I didn't have to force myself to go to bed. The poems are accessible, and even with less detail than is normally given to a novel, the word images, plot line, climax and resolution don't miss a beat because of Rose's fine tuning. The ending even left me surprised, and that doesn't happen often with the YA fiction I've read.
The other thing I enjoyed immensely in reading Blue Birds was that I was learning something from it. As a homeschooler, I'm always on the lookout for educational materials for my kids (and myself!), and I am highly attracted to historical fiction. I am sure that I will read this novel aloud to my own children when they are a little older and happen to be studying the New World and the Pilgrims in social studies. It's a great fit: you get a glimpse of life in the early settlements, the native's clan, the natural beauty of the geography, and literature (and poetry to boot!) all rolled into one little adventure story. Blue Birds was a treat to read and review, and I hope you'll enjoy it as well.
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 . 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 . PDFs will be sent out .
*I was given an advanced reader's copy of Blue Birds in exchange for a review post but the opinions of this book are my own. I signed up because I knew I'd love the book!