Bird of Paradise – Emily Hughes Johnson and Marilyn Hughes Johnson

London, Paris, Hong Kong, San Francisco.  Although she’s lived all over the world, it is the Island that always calls her home.  But as she stands upon the threshold of her future, only she can decide where her story will take her next. 

Lush emerald green jungle forests, gentle breezes perfumed by jasmine and gardenia, crystalline cascading waters, and the sparkling turquoise lagoon. Gently bobbing boats and the rich Island cultures of the past meet the present. Regardless of where she was, she was never truly home until she felt the sun-toasted sands of the Island under her feet.

The Heywood family has lived all over the world. Arianna, a Heywood daughter, is mature far beyond her age. But that doesn’t mean she does not love Friday night football games, senior high dances and the butterfly inducing anticipation of will he or won’t he kiss her. On the cusp of graduation, Ari is looking forward to joining her older sister at UC Berkeley (it is the 1960s after all) and she dreams of one day sipping Bellinis with her love in Italy.

He was her innocent childhood crush. She, on the other hand, was more like his kid sister. But Ari is no longer a little girl, and when a spring break visit to the Island reveals that his feelings have changed, Ari is eager to step into the world of womanhood. But as is often the case, you cannot always choose what happens in life. Embarking on a decade-long journey of self-discovery, Ari works to find her place in the world, torn between the pull of her Island and the possibility of what lies beyond. Guided by the wisdom of those who came before her, Ari must bridge the gap between her past and the story of her future, but an unexpected encounter may change it all. They say some love stories are meant to last forever. Will this be one of them?


The story behind how Bird of Paradise came about is a bit unique. My mother began writing Bird of Paradise after being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Writing was a way to escape from something that no one should ever have to face. In 2012, she passed away leaving the novel unfinished. Shortly after, I found a letter containing her manuscript and a note asking me to finish the novel for her. She always dreamed of seeing her work published. So after many years of working to complete her legacy, Bird of Paradise was published on March 29th, 2021 – what would have been her 71st birthday.

What do you think?

31 Points

Written by ejohnson38

Emily was born in Aspen, Colorado where she enjoyed skiing, dancing ballet and playing golf. At the age of 13, she and her family moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. She currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and son. Emily enjoys playing golf, running, kickboxing, reading, and spending time with her family. Finishing her mother’s work has been one of the greatest honors of her life.

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