Institute History


Birdie has a hard time fitting in. Unlike her older sister Cole, Birdie's skin is too light and her hair too straight to fit neatly into segregated Boston during the 1970s. birdie appears to be white, like their activist mother, while Cole looks like their black intellectual father. For birdie, Cole is the mirror in which she sees her own blackness, until suddenly her reflection is taken away. Caught between a fractured civil rights movement and their parents' broken relationship, Birdie and Cole must go their separate ways.

Cole goes to Brazil with her father while birdie and her mother wander along the Northern seaboard, eventually making a home in New Hampshire. In the belief that Federal authorities are after them, they leave everything behind: their house and possessions, their friends, and—most of all—their identities. Passing as the daughter and wife of a deceased Jewish professor, Birdie and her mother disappear into CAUCASIA—a real but imaginary place where appearance and reality are not the same thing and where truth is revealed through deception.

Desperate to find her sister, yet afraid of betraying her mother and herself to some unknown danger, birdie must navigate the white world and pains of adolescence alone. Her mother's ability to lose sight of who they truly are ultimately fuels Birdie to make the journey back to her sister and father.

CAUCASIA is an exploration of race, family and identity that is characteristic of America. It is a coming of age story about a girl who grows to know who she is by having to be who she's not.


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