Monday, January 25, 2010

Julie's Review: When She Flew

In this good-hearted novel, a father and his daughter—a damaged but loving Iraq War vet named Ray and a budding 12-year-old naturalist named Lindy—live happily off the grid in an Oregon forest until the day Lindy is spotted by a bird-watcher. Notified of a young girl wandering alone deep in the woods, the police assign dedicated officer Jessica Villareal to the case. Recently rejected by her own daughter and still smarting, Jessica sets out with the best of intentions for helping Lindy, but risks destroying the life Lindy and her father have built for themselves. Examining people willing to sidestep the rules in pursuit of a greater good, Shortridge's fourth novel (after Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe) recalls Barbara Kingsolver's Pigs in Heaven; Shortridge even manages to finesse authentic performances from her population of familiar types: a pitiable war veteran, a conflicted cop and a poor but precocious youngster.

Review: I'm always into reading family drama's/saga's, so When She Flew seemed that it would fall into that category but with a slightly different perspective. It's not that I didn't like some aspects of the book; it's just that it fell flat to me. I didn't fall in love or even heavy like with any of the characters. When that doesn't happen, a book usually falls flat for me. We are introduce to Lindy, a tween who is living in the forest with her dad. You see he's an Iraqi war vet who got hurt in combat and no one will hire him because they are afraid of eventually worker's comp claims. Down on their luck and not wanting to raise Lindy on the street, he builds them a tree house in Columbia, Oregon. This works great for them for a while until Lindy chases a Blue Heron and happens upon tourists who call the cops.

Enter Jessica "Jess" Villareal, veteran of the Columbia Police Force. She's part of the search and rescue team that is called in to find Lindy and rescue her from the cult she has been held captive by. Of course, what they learn is very different from what they thought. We've learned throughout the book that Jess is a very "follow the rules" kind of gal so you know it's foreshadowing to her not following the rules in this instance.

I won't give too much away in case you want to pick it up and read it for yourself. Unfortunately there is much more about this book that I didn't like than did. There are too many loose ends and I didn't really like the ending. I don't have to have ending tied up in a neat bow BUT I do like to know in general the characters are going to be ok and the ending left that up in the air.

What I really did like was the writing style of Ms. Shortridge. She has talent for writing about nature that makes me want to go camping. (yeah I don't do it). Her description of the blue heron and the peacocks in the book was so vivid, that I felt I could reach out and touch them.

I've read great things about Ms. Shortridge's other book Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe so I might have to give that a try.

Final Take: 3.25/5


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