Summary: A new novel about faith, family, and finding the courage to do the right thing from the author of Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. Police officer Jessica Villareal has always played by the book and tried to do the right thing. But now, she finds herself approaching midlife divorced, estranged from her daughter, alone, and unhappy. And she’s wondering if she ever made a right choice in her life. But then Jess discovers a girl and her father living off the radar in the Oregon woods, avoiding the comforts—and curses—of modern life. Her colleagues on the force are determined to uproot and separate them, but Jess knows the damage of losing those you love. She recognizes her chance to make a difference by doing something she’s never dared. Because even though she’s used to playing by the rules, there are times when they need to be broken… -- NAL Accent
I've seen a few fantastic reviews in the blogosphere the past week or so for WHEN SHE FLEW by Jennie Shortridge. Sometimes I'm a little hesitant to read a book when I've seen so much praise because I'm afraid I will feel let down -- you know, maybe my expectations were too high? However, I have to say that I'm very glad that I decided to pick up WHEN SHE FLEW. This novel was not only highly readable because of the storyline and the characters, but it also caused me to think a great deal. WHEN SHE FLEW is without a doubt a terrific read!
Ms. Shortridge got her inspiration for WHEN SHE FLEW from a 2004 story about a Vietnam War veteran and his daughter who were found living in a forested park outside of Portland. While she might have taken a few elements from that news story, she definitely made this book her own. Ms. Shortridge did a wonderful job of not only telling this story, but she also created some extremely memorable characters in Jess and Lindy, the young girl whom Jess found. I guarantee that your heart will go out to Lindy, and she will stay in your thoughts for a long time after you've finished this book.
There were many wonderful things about WHEN SHE FLEW -- the writing, the story, the way it made me think, the ethical dilemmas, etc. -- but I think what I appreciated most about this novel was how well Ms. Shortridge developed the characters of Jess and Lindy. She wrote the book in alternating chapters in each character's voice, and I love how it gave me insight into not only the actions but also the thoughts of each character. I thought the author did an amazing job of capturing the essence of Jess and her struggles, but I really thought the beauty of her writing came through in Lindy's chapters. My heart just went out to Lindy, and I found her to be such a pure character.
Last year, I read another one of Ms. Shortridge's novels LOVE AND BIOLOGY AT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. While I certainly liked LOVE AND BIOLOGY, I think I enjoyed WHEN SHE FLEW even more. For some reason, I could relate better to the central characters and I was more caught up in the story. WHEN SHE FLEW just evoked more emotions in me (maybe because it appealed to my mother's instinct.) One thing's for sure -- I absolutely love Ms. Shortridge's writing style, and I am very anxious to read her other two novels now!
WHEN SHE FLEW would make a marvelous pick for your next book club. I know my book club would enjoy talking about Jess and the many ethical implications surrounding her behavior. There is a readers guide available in the back of the book as well as an interesting interview with the author. I thought the nine discussion questions were very thought-provoking and will definitely enhance your meeting. Some possible issues to discuss are parental rights, mother-daughter relationships, honesty, and integrity to name a few.
I highly recommend WHEN SHE FLEW especially if you enjoy books with well developed female characters. I liked that this book made me think and even forced me to look differently at some things I just take for granted.
Thanks to the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this book.