Hello, people of the internet!
In the final segment of “Posts I Should Have Uploaded In March But Otherwise Couldn’t”, here is a discussion post. Before I begin, I will be talking about Flight Of A Starling in some detail, so here is a spoiler warning.
I am sure you are all familiar with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but you may not know about Lisa Heathfield’s Flight Of A Starling. Here is the blurb:
She was alive. She was real. She was my sister.
Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wire – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.
Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?
Now the synopsis alone should conjure up similarities to Romeo and Juliet, but its themes deep within the book is so strong that I would like to discuss this further.
Originally, I thought Romeo and Juliet was a little over-rated because there wasn’t really a connection between Romeo and Juliet other than the fact that they were in love with each other. That was until I watched Doug Walker/the Nostalgia Critic’s editorial on Romeo and Juliet on YouTube. His interpretation of the story was very interesting, especially when he talked about the roles of the feuding families in Romeo and Juliet’s relationship. To paraphrase it, he said that the fighting and the fact that the families forbid their romance to begin hinders the romantic relationship to bloom more naturally, which pushes Romeo and Juliet to drastic measures to keep their relationship alive. He does go into more detail, so if you’re interested, here is the link.
Since I never really went into a lot of detail with Romeo and Juliet at school, this is new information to me. So when I finished reading Flight Of A Starling, such hindering found in Romeo and Juliet is also found here with the circus folk refusing any romance with ‘Flatties’, their word for non-circus folk. I honestly feel that this hindering between Lo and Dean, the ‘Flattie’ she falls in love with, played a part in Lo’s death.
But that’s the thing – it only played a part. I believe it wasn’t what ultimately caused Lo to commit suicide.
You see, there is a huge family secret that Lo and her fellow performer, Spider, discover. Lo and Rita’s mother is cheating on their father with a fellow circus performer, who Rita has a crush on. Lo chooses to keep this a secret to avoid their circus family falling apart, but it begins to consume her. It changes her perspective on her family and she begins to really struggle to be happy with her circus life. The only person she chooses to fully discuss her problems with is Dean. It is with Dean that she finds comfort in this very difficult time. But with Dean’s difficult home life that prevents him from joining the circus along with Lo’s family’s prejudice, this prevents their love from blooming naturally. So when this relationship falls apart, her comfort away from her complicated home life is taken away and therefore ends in tragedy.
In conclusion, a complicated, conflicted home life for Lo has affected her first love like it affected Romeo and Juliet, albeit in a different way. For Romeo and Juliet, it is the warring families that prevent their relationship from blooming, and for Lo and Dean, it is the prejudice and family secret in Lo’s family as well as Dean’s inability to physically be with her that ends in Lo’s death. Even though they are to be seen as separate stories as they should be, their similarities should be discussed further. It is interesting to read how familial relationships and their reactions to a family member’s choice in a romantic partner can affect so many things.
What do you think? Do you agree with my interpretation? What other story reminds you of Romeo and Juliet?
Thank you for reading!