Monday, October 17, 2011

ARC Review: FLYAWAY

The Book: FLYAWAY
The Author: Helen Landalf
The Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (an Imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Anticipated Release Date: December 19, 2011

Summary:
So what if Stevie Calhoun is only fifteen years old?  And, so what if her mother's been missing in action for a few days?  Stevie's been taking care of herself for ages.  There's really no good reason for Aunt Mindy to have a fit about it now.  Well, okay, maybe there was that report on the news about the club where Stevie's mom works being a front for crystal meth operation.  And, maybe she has been acting a little more erratic than usual.  And, maybe Stevie gets a serious case of the creepy-crawlies from her mom's new boyfriend. 

That's all fixable.  All Stevie has to do is find her mom, kick that lowlife Drake to the curb, and get the rent paid on time. Piece of cake.  Really, there's no need for Aunt Mindy to blow this all out of proportion like she is.

Under the threat of a call to social services, Stevie reluctantly moves in with Aunt Mindy, but only until her mother comes to get her.  Because really, Stevie doesn't need school.  She doesn't need friends, or even a guy, no matter how gorgeous Alan is, and she certainly doesn't need to be taking care of a bunch of wounded birds.  None of that matters to her...or does it?

My Thoughts:
Addiction does not just destroy the life of the one who finds solace in drugs, it also shatters those close to the addict.  FLYAWAY shines it's bright light over one such family torn apart by the ravages drug use can inflict on the families of addicts.  At times, it is brutal.  In others, hopeful.  But every page of this book sings with it's realness.

The story opens with Stevie having stretched herself so thin from taking care of both herself and her mother, all while fighting to maintain a thin facade of normalcy, that she is at her breaking point.  Her mother has been missing for two days, and all Stevie can do now is worry and wait.  It's heart-breaking to see a fifteen year old girl have to wear the mantle of parent and protector, but Stevie does without complaint.  All she wants is to see her mother walk through that door, or at the very least call home to let her know everything is okay.

But, when the door opens, it's Aunt Mindy there to herd Stevie out of the apartment and far away from the life she'd always known.  Reluctantly, Stevie agrees to stay with Mindy, but only until her mother can be found.  What follows is a journey that no family should have to take.  Stevie finds her mother, and Mindy organizes and intervention, shipping her off to treatment and leaving Stevie to pick up the pieces and begin a "normal" life when all she wants to do is go back home with her mother.

From that very first scene, Stevie just sang for me.  She was brassy, self-sufficient, and full of piss and vinegar.  But, when her mother comes into the picture, that spunky girl folds up and crawls away, replaced by a meek girl who doesn't argue or question.  There were moments when I wanted to shake her and ask, "Where did you go, girl?"  But, you know what?  This made her a real girl for me.  In my opinion, this abrupt change in her demeanor when her mother comes into the picture is completely believable and endearing.

Even Aunt Mindy sprang up and did a little dance for me, with her prissy, semi-uptight ways, and how she slowly loosened up through out the book.  Every character had their own backstory, quirks, and flaws that gave the story just that much more life. 

A quick, easy read, this book with tear your heart out, twist it in a few knots, and then put you back together again so you and the birds can just FLYAWAY.