Honestly, the first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. And then, the description reeled me in more. When Jen at Devourer of Books told me she loved it and that I would too? Well, that sealed the deal.
This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Jessica Villareal has built her life around her career. As a police officer, she has followed in her father’s footsteps, made the world a little safer for her own daughter, and found the fulfillment she had longed for ever since she was a little girl. Now she’s facing life divorced, estranged from her only child, alone and very unhappy. So when she decides to risk it all for a homeless girl and her Iraq-vet father who have been discovered, living in the Oregon woods, she begins to question everything she ever held dear.
Twelve-year-old Lindy and her father Ray have been living happily in the Oregon forest for quite awhile now. He home-schools her with library books and they are reasonably well provided for by his disability checks. She has a unique and enviable appreciation for the environment and has been thriving in her beloved woods. When she is spotted one day out in the forest by a bird-watcher, she knows it’s all over. She and her father try to escape, but the police catch them anyway.
Jessica is assigned to help Lindy. She wants to help the girl and her father, but at what risk? Should she help the state tear apart this small family forever or help the two stay together? Her choice could change her own life, forever. She faces loosing her job, the fragile link she has with her daughter and grandson, and even her solitude. Can she make the choice that she knows is right?
Shortridge drew inspiration for When She Flew from a 2004 story of a Vietnam War vet who was found, living with his daughter, in a forested park outside of Portland. Which only drew me into the book more, as that is something I’ve always thought of doing. I often read news stories and wonder about the stories the news doesn’t report. When She Flew is beautifully written, the characters (particularly Jessica) are well-drawn and, well, felt real, to me. The plot, while at times a touch predictable, held my attention throughout. I came to care about all these characters and wanted to see the best happen for all of them. I was sad to tell them goodbye! Jennie Shortridge may well be a new, favorite author. I couldn’t wait to read more of her work, so I bought Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe with some of my birthday money.
When She Flew
By Jennie Shortridge
Published by NAL Trade, 652 pages
On Sale: November 3, 2009
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