Monday, June 17, 2019

Birdie & Jude, by Phyllis H. Moore

Phyllis H. Moore, March 2018

Birdie Barnes is a middle-aged woman living in her family's longtime home near the beach in Galveston. Her only surviving family is her nephew, her brother's son. Her parents, her brother and his wife, and even their other son, have all died over the years. Her nephew lives in Houston now, but he comes back every month to see her and take her to church, and make sure she's all right.

Now, though, there's a hurricane bearing down on Galveston, and she's taking her dog, Ollie, out for a walk for what's likely to be the last opportunity till after the storm is over. And on this walk, they find a young woman, Jude, lying in the sand, with blood in her hair and on her clothes from obviously recent but not fresh injuries, and it's a challenge to get her to agree to get up and move even though the tide is coming in and the storm is approaching. Once home, she persuades Jude to shower, let Birdie put her clothes in the wash, nap, and eat a meal.

And talk.

Over the course of the storm, and the days following, we learn more about the car accident that killed Jude's friend, Casey, and the first hints about her own troubled past. More slowly, we get hints about Birdie's own troubles, fears, and insecurities.

These are two complicated, intelligent, good women struggling to coping very different challenges. They each have challenges of identity, self-worth, ability to believe in their value to other people. For Birdie, this includes her nephew and her difficulties accepting his attention and concern, but also her doubts about whether the women who have been her friends all her life, and continue to actively include her when, as she has to concede to herself, all their mothers are long gone and her mother can't be nagging their mothers to make sure they include her, as she assumes happened when they were alive.

It's a very satisfying look at very engaging characters, with a bittersweet, but rewarding end.


I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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