When She Flew, a fictional story based on true events, is told in alternating narratives by two of the main characters. The third person narrative is used to tell the story from the viewpoint of Officer Jessica Villareal. A divorced woman in her late 30’s, with a sadly distant relationship with her daughter and grandson, “Jess” devotes herself to her work as a police officer.
The second narrative is that of the child, Lindy, and is told in first person. Lindy has a fascination with birds, and one day while observing a blue heron in the woods where she lives, she is noticed by a fellow bird watcher. Up until that point, Lindy had been living in the woods with her father, an Iraq war vet, who saved her from the care of her unstable mother. The bird watcher reports the girl and the police start a search to find the child.
Jess joins in on the search and helps find Lindy and her father. The officials decide that Lindy needs a safe shelter in a foster home, and attempt to separate her from her father. However, Jess is touched by the love she sees between the father and his daughter; she takes matters into her own hands, breaks the rules, and stands up for what she believes is best. What follows is the story of what Jess does and the subsequent consequences.
The writing was, in general, engaging. For the first 100 pages, I wasn’t sure if I’d really get into the story, but around that point I became hooked and wanted to read more. Of the two, I definitely enjoyed the first person narration of the young girl better; hers seemed more genuine and less forced. The situation the characters found themselves in was intriguing, but I was somewhat disappointed with the ending. It wasn’t bad, but it just seemed anti-climactic.
In addition, though this didn’t really affect the story much, I found some inaccuracies in the author’s description of events. One example would be obtaining an arbitrary sexual assault exam on a child when there are no allegations of such. At least in the state I live in, this would never be done. Even when they are, the lack of findings can not rule out sexual abuse, as the majority of exams on those who really were abused in this manner yields no results. Another thing I wondered about was the lack of child protective services despite it being integral to the storyline.
What I believe the author aimed for is a story about two different “women” (one woman and one girl) and how they each “flew” and took on a challenge or experienced something different. In that sense, the author accomplished her task and provided good female role models. I found it interesting that the author took an actual news headline and added her own background and story to it. When She Flew is a book that touches on some serious topics that may induce some interesting, and possibly heated, book club discussions!
Jenny is a social worker in her late twenties who lives with her husband and Jack Russell Terrier in the central Florida area. In her “free” time she loves reading books of all genres. She also reviews books on her book blog TakeMeAway.