Rating: 4/5 Stars
St. Martin’s Press April 2013
This is your last warning, if you haven’t read Firefly Lane and plan to, don’t read this review 🙂
“Once, a long time ago, I walked down a night-darkened road called Firefly Lane, all alone, on the worst night of my life, and I found a kindred spirit. That was our beginning. More than thirty years ago. TullyandKate. You and me against the world. Best friends forever. But stories end, don’t they? You lose the people you love and you have to find a way to go on. . . .
Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate—to be there for Kate’s children—but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people.
Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together, but even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her . . . until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.
Dorothy Hart—the woman who once called herself Cloud—is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs.
A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will need each one another—and maybe a miracle—to transform their lives.
An emotionally complex, heart-wrenching novel about love, motherhood, loss, and new beginnings, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope, and where there is love, there is forgiveness. Told with her trademark powerful storytelling and illuminating prose, Kristin Hannah reveals why she is one of the most beloved writers of our day.”
-Summary from Goodreads/Amazon
I have always been a big fan of Kristin Hannah. I stopped reading her for a while because the settings, character, and story-line can be very similar so I wouldn’t recommend reading too many of her books in a row. But, she is a great writer and her characters are always well-developed. Her books are emotional and they are a quick read. Fly Away is technically the sequel to Firefly Lane (which is amazing, that and True Colors are two of her greatest books). But, to me it doesn’t seem right to call it a “sequel”. It cheapens it somehow. I was reading her acknowledgments and she thanked someone for telling her “it was time to write this story”, and that’s the best way to describe it. These beautiful, seemingly real characters from Firefly Lane weren’t finished. There was more to explore, more to know, deeper to delve.
It is interesting to see how everyone dealt with grief differently in this novel. But, the absolute best part of this story was getting the back-story of Cloud, Tully’s mom. It is heartbreaking, raw, and opens up so many perspectives. We see as readers how quick we are to make judgments on people and how that can change. Again, Kristin Hannah teaches us that everyone makes mistakes, and how to forgive. You have to give it to her, she knows how to write a beautiful story. This book makes you want to apologize to your mom for how mean you were as a teenager, and to tell your family how much you love them. All of this sounds cliché but it’s true.
I have very few complaints for Fly Away. Some phrases/little instances were repeated over and over. I can’t remember all of the specifics (I didn’t take great notes as I read the majority of it on a plane home for Thanksgiving). We got the back story of “TullyandKate” A LOT. The images with the bikes, the songs, and the mason jars were a little too beaten in. I understand the importance and symbolism but I also think that authors should trust in their readers to know what they’re saying in between the lines. Some of it was appreciated as I read Firefly Lane four or five years ago, but after the beginning it was no longer necessary.
My last complaint is very subjective. I am someone who is not religious/spiritual so there were some parts that seemed hackneyed to me. This happened when a certain character was in a coma-induced limbo where she sees “the white light” and talks to people “beyond the grave” while looking down upon her body in the hospital. No no no. To me this is cliché and a bit melodramatic. But again, Kristin Hannah is an inspirational and sentimental writer so I can’t take too much fault with it.
Overall, this is (without using too many cliché, press release words like poignant) a sentimental and well-written novel. It is clear that these characters are close to Hannah’s heart and I would recommend reading both books. You can get through them fast and you won’t regret it.