Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Fly Away

Summary: As teenagers in the seventies, Tully Hart and Kate Mularky were inseparable. Tully, with her make-up and her halter tops, was the coolest girl in school. Kate, with her glasses and her high water jeans, was the geeky outsider. But chance and circumstance brought them together and through the decades they were devoted to each other. This was the story of Tully and Kate which began on a quiet street called Firefly Lane. Best friends forever.

But sometimes stories end, and we have to find a way to begin again.

Now, years later, Tully is a woman trying to deal with the loss of her best friend. She wants to fulfill her promise to Kate—to be there for Kate’s children, but it’s a promise she has no idea how to carry out. What does brash, lonely, ambitious Tully know about being part of a family?

Kate's daughter, sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan, is as lost in her grief as Tully is...until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.

Tully's mother, Dorothy Hart, is an unstable woman who abandoned her child too many times in the past and ultimately broke her heart. Now, when Tully is in danger of losing everything and is more vulnerable and alone than she’s been since she put those rough childhood years behind her, Dorothy returns once more, desperate for another chance to be a good mother. But can she be trusted this time? To help her daughter, Dorothy must face her darkest fears and reveal the terrible secret in her past—only then can she become the mother her wounded daughter needs. In Fly Away, tragedy will bring these three women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way and they will need each other—and maybe a miracle—to transform their lives… -- St. Martin's Griffin

I remember when many bloggers were reading (and raving about) FIREFLY LANE by Kristin Hannah. For whatever reason, despite having a copy of this book, I never got around to reading it. That's really unfortunate because I know I would like this story about two long-time best friends.

Fast forward to this week when the sequel to FIREFLY LANE was released. It's called FLY AWAY and I decided that I didn't want to miss this one even though I never read the first book that featured these characters. So I sat down a few days ago and started this novel. Little did I know how caught up I'd be in the story and the characters' lives.

While FIREFLY LANE focuses on the friendship of Kate and Tully, FLY AWAY shows what happened to Kate's loved ones after her death. Basically, Kate's husband, best friend, and daughter are all struggling with the loss. Kate was the glue that held everything together, and each one of them is having a hard time moving forward without her.

Kate's husband is doing his best to raise their three children, but he's desperately missing the love of his life and her ability to handle the kids. Tully is an absolute mess. She walked out on her hugely popular day-time talk show and is abusing a variety of substances. And poor Marah, Kate's teenage daughter, has run away with a questionable character and has little to no contact with her family.

Needless to say, the majority of FLY AWAY is sad and deeply troubling; however, I do think this novel does an amazing job of exploring grief and loss. Over and over again, my heart broke for so many of the characters. At one point in this novel, I actually wondered if anything good was going to happen to any of these characters! Thankfully, the ending was what I wanted (and needed!), and the messages that I took from this novel were so powerful.

My mind is still reeling from this novel and the actions of the characters. Marah was the character that brought me the most pain because she just seemed so young and lost with a mother. As a mother to a teenage daughter, I think her story resonated with me the most because I could see how a young girl would feel guilty and even try to hurt herself when faced with such a huge loss.

However, it was Tully's character that will probably stick with me the most. Tully was truly lost without Kate -- so much so that she couldn't even function. While I appreciated seeing how much she was affected by Kate's death, I also liked how the author delved into some other issues that Tully had in her personal life. Tully was not one for serious relationships and had never found true love. Part of the reason for this was that Tully was still dealing with abandonment issues from her childhood -- she never knew her father and her mother was an addict who wanted little to do with her.

One of my favorite themes of this novel was the concept that we all can have second chances. In the case of every character, each one learned that it's never too date for a do-over. This was especially true for Tully's mother Dorothy. Dorothy realized that she was a horrible mother to Tully, and by the end of this novel, she was able to finally prove her love to Tully. It just warmed my heart!

While I didn't read FIREFLY LANE, it certainly wasn't necessary to appreciate FLY AWAY. I felt as the author gave enough of the background information about the characters to bring me up-to-date. Having said that, I do think I might have enjoyed this novel even more had I known all of the background of the characters. I think I'd love seeing the ups and downs of Kate and Tully's friendship and how they came together again when Kate was dying.

I'm sure it's no surprise that FLY AWAY would make an outstanding book club selection. There is a reading guide with twelve thought-provoking questions included in the back of the book. In addition, there is an interview with the author that I found extremely insightful along with some interesting tidbits about the characters and some fun ideas to enhance your book club meeting. Some of the themes you might want to explore include grief, loss, parent/child relationships, forgiveness, friendships, love, addiction, abuse, second chances, and redemption.

I enjoyed FLY AWAY a great deal and now I want to read FIREFLY LANE to learn more about these likable characters. Highly recommended for fans of women's fiction.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I've never read Hannah's work but my sister loves it. She says the books should come with tissues. It sounds like she's right!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've got a couple of friends that read everything she writes, but I've always hesitated. To me it sounded like the kinds of books that set out to push people's buttons. I guess there is a time and place for books that give you a good cry though! Me Before You comes to mind!

Beth F said...

Oh wow! I loved the first one and somehow missed the news of this second book. I must get it.

Amy said...

I loved reading your review, and even though I haven't heard of either one of the books, you've made me curious - I'll be checking to see if they have then in my library!