Elevate Difference

When She Flew

In a fictionalized version of a true event that that happened a few years ago, an Iraq war vet and his young daughter are discovered living in the Oregon woods. When police officer Jessica Villareal hears that a young girl has been sighted in the woods and could be a runaway teen, she asks to be added to the search team. Jessica has always played by the rules, but finds herself heading towards forty and feeling like her job is the only thing she has going for her. She has an estranged teenage daughter and grandson who live close to her ex-husband, Rick in another state. As the story unfolds, we learn that Jessica, who is half-Mexican, is the daughter of a policeman who was killed in an auto wreck while on duty when Jessica was very young. Since then she has tried to maintain a firm grip on her world to keep danger and insecurity at bay.

Throughout When She Flew, we sense that Jessica is trying to find her way back to her daughter and her own lost childhood by trying to help Lindy, the teenage girl. As told through the narrative voices of Jessica and Lindy, we inhabit the worlds of these two separate, but linked individuals. Despite a lack of material resources, Lindy has been brought up by her survivalist father to love and appreciate nature. She has a special interest in birds and is first sighted by bird watchers when she ventures away from the campsite to follow a blue heron she sees by the river.

Without giving the entire plot away, the title of the book _When She Flew_ symbolized, for me, how both the younger and older female characters of the novel eventually find the courage to leave the safety of the known and find their own “truths” about life and their place in the world, even if they doesn’t always conform to societal expectations. The novel asks thought provoking questions about our assumptions when it comes to raising children. Pater is raising his daughter outside of the confines of conventional society, but would Lindy be better off with a foster family, or in an institutionalized setting? These characters stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page. Once I started reading this book, I found it hard to put it down.

Written by: Gita Tewari, January 12th 2010

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