Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964–66)
“Caruso!” she calls out annoyed.
A beautiful “love story” about two individuals that are strong in character, passionate, full of life, and sad at times . . .. Caruso is a parrot, a sulphur-crested cockatoo with a speck of humanness in his birdness heart. Clarissa McCarty is his owner, but Caruso sees her as a red-headed eclectus hen . . . “Claaa-risss-a,” he shouts to get her attention. They have each other as they are searching for affection from one another on this island off of North Carolina and far from his home of Australia.
Caruso has developed a keen mind, and a vocabulary that can challenge any human . . . but he talks to himself and only briefly has words for us humans. Caruso loves the poetry of Emily Dickerson, and the music of Billy Holiday. But he is lonely and always demands love and affection of his Claaa-risss-a. He knows that feather plucking is a parrots way of grieving, and does not enjoy the pain. He loves to ride her shoulder as she rides her bicycle to work as the local chef.
I was not able to put this book down, hearing what Caruso had to say about life between humans and birds . . . awesome! I have started re-reading the book from the beginning to pick up what I may have missed. As Caruso said, “parrots are monogamous.” Clarissa must know that . . . they bathe together, sit and talk and sing. Yet when Clarissa meets a young man, Caruso begins to pluck his feathers should he not be her “main-man.”
Is it possible that Caruso a cockatoo can have so much depth and feelings? As with humans, he wants and needs affection, and demands it. What a guy! What a bird! Claaa-risss-a is his sexy and beautiful special friend . . . and he could never refuse to perch upon her alabaster skin. “Kiss me she says!” Clarissa his dazzling hen!
If I had young children, I would read this moving and warm book, something special is going on between Caruso and Clarissa.
Reviewer Bob Arias was an Associate Peace Corps Director in Colombia from 1968 to 1973, and Peace Corps Country Director in Uruguay and Argentina from 1993 to 1995. He returned to work at the Peace Corps from 2001 to 2003 and assisted in creating the agency’s Safety and Security Office. Now retired from Los Angeles County where he was the County’s Compliance Officer, Bob has been serving as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer (formerly known as a Crisis Corps) since 2009, and has worked in Paraguay, Colombia, and now for a second time, in Panamá.
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