Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings
publication date July 28 2020
Thank you Netgalley for the free ARC of Flyaway.
This is such a beautifully written book. The opening chapter vividly and poetically introduces us to the setting creating the atmosphere of a fairytale. For example “ Trees bled resin like rubies, sprouted goitrous nests, suspended cats-cradles of spiderwebs spinning disks of silk”…see, a fairytale.
Like all good fairy tales, Flyaway has a princess Bettina or “Tink” as she is referred to by those who know her best. For years Bettina has lived alone with her mother with her father and her two cruel brothers having disappeared years ago. Tink isn’t exactly sure how and when her father disappeared for that time in her history is rather fuzzy. And her mother doesn’t help her remember, in fact, her there is something odd about Bettina’s mother..she’s hiding something, some truth.
Life has been going on rather uneventful for Betinna except for the fact she hs to paint over the word “Monsters” graffitied on the fence in their yard, or because most of the townsfolk treat her with disdain and mistrust.
One day Betinna receives an envelope in the mail. Inside the envelope are old newspaper clippings with “Youths Run amok”, “Damage and Disturbance”, “Destruction of Peace” which is unsettling enough but what makes the contents of this letter even more threatening is the ominously scrawled handwriting on it saying “You coward Tink”.
Bettina knows it was one of her long lost brothers who has sent this letter so, with the help of two childhood friends, she goes in search of her brothers in order to finally find out the truth behind her father’s disappearance.
Interspersed throughout the novel are chapters that are literally written in fairy tale form. These chapters are tale from her family’s past as well as the folklore of the community.
This is a fairly short novel that packs a tonne of story, not in terms of plot, but rather in terms of theme and character. It deserves to be read slowly, especially the chapters written in fairy tale form. So that you can truly appreciate the style and languages used by the author. In fact, I am tempted to by this novel in hard copy so that I can share some of the beautifully poetic language with my students. To me, toe story is written a bit like a puzzle with each chapter seeming like an individual piece on its own, but once put together displays an intriguing and elaborate picture.