clarissa burden book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

Clarissa Burden is an aspiring writer who lives in Hope, Florida. She is married to Igor “Iggy” Dupuy, a foreigner from South Africa. She married him when it was “in” to marry foreigners, but she knows that he was never the love of her life. She realizes that he has long since fallen out of love with her, and she daydreams and imagines her husband dead in dozens of comic ways, much to the delight of the reader.

Clarissa lives a life that has little joy in it. She looks for solace in the ghosts that frequent her house, and follow her around like a shadow. She meets Larry Dibble, a one armed angel who watches over her, as well as other shadow people who protect her from her husband’s indifference and mean spirited remarks. Clarissa’s biggest supporter is Olga Villada, a woman who tended Clarissa’s very own garden over a century ago. Olga and her family provide the support Clarissa lacks in her real life, and at the end these near to life forms are instrumental in giving Clarissa the courage to escape her husband’s wrath.

Clarissa has suffered prior emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her mother, and finds that her husband’s comments take her to the brink of insanity – she just can’t take it anymore. And who can blame her? As she makes the decision to start a secret savings account, and buy a car, she is finally ready to leave her husband. The reader cheers for her as she prepares herself for the ultimate confrontation with Igor, which is calculated to do more than just set her free.

Clarissa finds a venue to unleash her anger, and at the same time frees herself up to the quality of life that she has always deserved. The book cheats time, and the reader will find some pleasant surprises at the end that will bring Clarissa’s journey full circle.

How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly is an interesting read and recommended for a mature audience. There is some strong language – in the context of verbal abuse – and even a mature teen would get a valuable life lesson from reading this book.

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast. 

This book was provided free of any obligation by Hachette Book Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.