Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Flyaway by Helen Landalf
Fifteen-year-old Stevie Calhoun is used to taking care of herself. But one night, her mom, who works as an exotic dancer in a downtown Seattle nightclub, never comes home.
That’s the night Stevie’s life turns upside down.
It’s the night that kicks off an extraordinary summer: the summer Stevie has to stay with her annoyingly perfect Aunt Mindy; the summer she learns to care for injured and abandoned birds; the summer she gets to know Alan, the meanest guy in high school.
But most of all, it’s the summer she finds out the truth about Mom.
FLYAWAY is the story of a teen girl’s struggle to hold on to what she’s always believed, even as her world spins out of control.
OK... I was expecting something along the lines of Stealing Heaven, only I get this:
It took me two tries to actually read it and not nitpick. My first go at it was me picking over how inauthentic things felt; I found myself obsessing over what one character said or did, finding this thing or that thing to be just the thing one said/did ina given situation. For example, Stevie's walking out on her aunt was a bit too much of angry-teenager for me. Or her school counsellor saying something that ran along the lines of not having Stevie "slip through the cracks." These things just felt cliched to me. Another part that truly had me baffled was Stevie's optimism when it came to her mother; for a street-wise teenager, she sometimes came across as painfully optimistic and too trusting.
But perhaps this optimism and belief could be contrued as authentic, too. Would it not be authentic to believe the best of one's parents? To think that they could do no wrong? So, yeah, giving Fly Away a second go (with a little more of an open mind,) I could recognize moments of it for what they were: a girl who loved her mother deeply, loyally. But there's also Stevie, the friend. It seemed the relationship with her mother was mirrored in the ones that she had with her "friends." She showed how trusting and forgiving she could be. And this once again baffled me. Her trusting them and whatnot just went contrary to the tough and street smart girl I expected her to be. Then there's Alan. Honestly, I thought there romance was just extra; it added nothing but took nothing away either.
Overall, while moments of it were authentic (mostly involving June,) I think there are other books that tackle the subject better.
*Thanks to Netgalley.