Book Review: Flyaway by Helen Landalf

FLYAWAY by Helen Landalf
Publication Date: December 19th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcour
Rating: |

Summary: 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.

Review Overview:

  • Stevie was a little bit difficult to like as a character
  • There’s a little bit of romance, but it isn’t the main focus of the book
  • A good YA debut, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Landalf’s work

Stevie was a tough character to like. She’s pretty independent and rebellious, but after all that she’s been through, sometimes I questioned her actions. Stevie was having one rough summer: her mom has been sent to rehab and she was now living with her Aunt Mindy. Given her circumstances, I tried to sympathize with her character, but sometimes found it difficult when she was being ungrateful. I know that she was used to taking care of herself, but I grew frustrated as I wished her to be more nice to Aunt Mindy. I did think that she grew as a character as the story progressed.

Of the secondary characters, I really enjoyed reading about Rick and Aunt Mindy. I thought that the two of them had an interesting dynamic with Stevie. Rick did sound a little too good to be true at first, but I enjoyed his scenes so much that I overlooked the fact that he was a “millionaire tutor” who was tutoring for the sake of helping others because he has nothing better to do.

There’s a boy in this story, but romance isn’t exactly the big issue in FLYAWAY. Which is good. I liked what the bit of romance added to the story. I didn’t like Alan’s character to begin with, especially when I couldn’t understand how he was nice one second and mean the next. I grew to like him more as the story progressed, but I only really understood him when his past was revealed towards the end.

I thought that the ending was perfect. I loved how the birds symbolized a new beginning for Stevie. It was optimistic and hopeful, but still realistic. FLYAWAY is a solid debut and I look forward to reading more of Landalf’s work. I recommend this book to those who like contemporary novels that’s a bit more serious.

Why I’m Biased: Though FLYAWAY is Helen Landalf’s debut novel, it isn’t the first time I’ve read her work. Landalf is one of the clients for the literary agency that I used to intern for, and I was lucky enough to read one of the manuscripts she was currently working on. I did request this eGalley from NetGalley since I was interested in reading more by Landalf.

Other Reviews:

About the Author

I am the author of five books for teachers on integrating dance and drama into the classroom and two children’s picture books, including the award-winning The Secret Night World of Cats, which was illustrated by my brother, Mark Rimland, an artist with autism. My debut YA novel, FLYAWAY, will be released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Fall 2011.

Find the Author

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