Tuesday, November 22, 2011
FLYAWAY by Lucy Christopher
While browsing in my local Barnes & Noble, I was struck by all of the "cookie cutter" books on the shelves. I made it my mission to find a middle grade book with no fantastical elements. The one caveat was that it had to be a book I hadn't already read. I found exactly one book that fit my criteria: FLYAWAY by Lucy Christopher.
The back of the book says, "Quiet but compelling. Sensitive." -- Booklist, starred review. There is was again...the dreaded "Quiet" word. I paid for FLYAWAY and took it home with me. I settled down in my favorite reading chair to discover what makes this book "quiet."
Isla is an animal lover, especially swans. Very early on, we learn that her dad is having some health problems. When Isla goes birdwatching with him, Dad collapses, and it's up to Isla to get help for him.
The rest of the book is about Isla's emotional journey. Her first crush, her school project, her relationship with her prickly grandfather, but underlying all of the normal activities is a young girl struggling to grow up. Isla must face that life is fragile, and sometimes we lose the people we love most.
In my opinion, this book is deemed "quiet" because it doesn't have a "high action" plot. No buildings were blown up, bad guys didn't chase the protagonist, a wicked witch didn't die in a puff of smoke. Still I think many middle school girls will see a bit of themselves in Isla.
I enjoyed FLYAWAY, and if you are, or ever were, a girl on the cusp of growing up, you probably will too.