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Friday, September 16, 2011

Lucy Christopher's Newest Quietly Moving

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Watching the swans has always been a father/daughter thing, something wondrous and beautiful just for 13-year-old Isla to share with her dad. They're both obsessed with the magnificent creatures, who flock to their English town to winter on its lakes. It's during one of the pair's early morning bird watching expeditions that Isla's father collapses. He's rushed to the hospital with a terrified Isla in tow. Although the doctors manage to stabilize him, her father's too sick to leave, his heart too weak to function as it should. When - and if - the physicians can fix him remains to be seen.

In a daze, Isla wanders through the hospital, stopping when she says a guy about her age attached to an IV pole. Henry Brambling is funny, kind, and doesn't tease Isla about her fervent love for the outdoors the way other teenagers do. He's also a patient in the cancer ward. With his leukemia in remission, Henry doesn't seem as sick as Isla's dad - at least Henry's got the energy to tease her and show her around the hospital. And when Isla spots an injured swan floating on the pond outside Henry's window, he agrees to keep an eye on it for her.

Helping the swan fly becomes Isla's new mission. An irrational voice inside her whispers that if she can cure the bird, she can cure her father. Henry, too. But as the swan stubbornly resists her efforts to heal it, so do the two people Isla wants to help the most. Isla knows she can't fail, can't lose everything dear to her, but as she observes all the broken bodies around her, her faith fails her. What if she doesn't succeed? What if she loses them all?

Flyaway, the new (available October 1) middle-grade book by YA novelist Lucy Christopher is a gentle story about a young girl's determination to save her beloved father. Its emphasis on swans makes it original, while its exploration of fear and hope in the face of a crisis makes it universal. Flyaway is touching, thouh not in a way that's overdone or cheesy. Like Isla herself, the story is brave, hopeful and quietly moving. Somber maybe, but also fresh and uplifting. Like watching a swan launch into the sky, triumphantly soaring into the clouds.

(Readalikes: Reminded me a litte bit of The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for mild language and intense situations

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Flyaway from the generous folks at Scholastic. Thank you!


  1. That sounds like a really sweet story.

    I started a Flashback Friday meme that I'd love for you to be a part of. Here's the link to my post.
    Clean Teen Fiction's Flashback Friday

  2. I love the way you review these books with a grade and if it were a movie. New follower via Blog Hop!


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