Friday, October 2, 2015

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester, 2008

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You just can't keep a good girl down . . . unless you use the proper methods.
Piper McCloud can fly. Just like that. Easy as pie.

Sure, she hasn't mastered reverse propulsion and her turns are kind of sloppy, but she's real good at loop-the-loops.
Problem is, the good folk of Lowland County are afraid of Piper. And her ma's at her wit's end. So it seems only fitting that she leave her parents' farm to attend a top-secret, maximum-security school for kids with exceptional abilities.
School is great at first with a bunch of new friends whose skills range from super-strength to super-genius. (Plus all the homemade apple pie she can eat!) But Piper is special, even among the special. And there are consequences.
Consequences too dire to talk about. Too crazy to consider. And too dangerous to ignore.
(328 pages)

A few weeks ago, I saw in my Goodreads monthly releases e-mail that Victoria Forester has finally written a sequel to The Girl Who Could Fly, and that it's coming out late October. To say I'm excited about The Boy Who Knew Everything is an understatement - I've been waiting for this book since 2008. During the painful wait between now and October, I decided to review my long-time favorite The Girl Who Could Fly, thereby simultaneously spreading the word about a great MG book and having a valid excuse for re-reading an old favorite (instead of tackling my massive TBR pile, which I really need to start working on - I've never returned so many unread books to the library!).

What is it about The Girl Who Could Fly that has made me love it so much? For starters, there are the characters. I knew from the beginning that I couldn't help but love Piper McCloud, the homeschooled girl with a penchant for floating and a desperate desire for friendship. Back in 2008, having only been homeschooled for a few years, I could relate just a little too closely to Piper as she sat on a hidden perch and watched all of the kids her age stream off to school where they got to goof around and make friends. My situation wasn't quite as extreme as hers (my parents weren't actively separating me from my peers, and actually tried very hard to find friends for me), but that core loneliness struck a chord in me. Plus, I just plumb loved her bubbly determination to make the world a better place, even in the beginning she was a little too ditzy to actually figure things out. I also loved the kids at the school, but I can't talk about them much for fear of spoilers. Needless to say I became deeply attached to each and every one of them, and revisiting The Girl Who Could Fly is like revisiting old friends.

I also love the idea of the story. Who could resist a book about kids with special abilities, brought to a special academy for kids with abilities? It's like Camp Half Blood or the X-Men academy, but with a dark twist. A pretty disturbing twist. A twist that is actually way creepier now than I remember it being the first time around. I think maybe I just blanked out on some of it the first time. Because what some of the characters, both big and small, went through was just plain evil. And heartbreaking. And in the end, the anger and sorrow I feel about what has happened is amplified as I struggle with which it is that certain people deserve: the anger, or the sympathy. It's a deep book, much deeper than the flighty cover and the exciting synopsis make it out to be.

What I love about The Girl Who Could Fly, though, is that it's a deep book and a shallow book, all in one. It's got small-town rivalries and mean gossips and the push and pull of life in boarding school (not to mention the insanely cool talents all of the main characters have!), but then it's also got things that make you cringe and cry out and just plain cry. Every time I've read The Girl Who Could Fly, I've found new things to draw from it - this time, it got me mulling over the things that make people unique, and the fact that no one has the right to command others to change. When I was younger, the scene that struck me the most strongly was the one with the giraffe - which I won't spoil - and I came away with the idea that it takes only a little bit of kindness to light up someone's world.

So go. Read this book, and discover the wonderful world of Piper McCloud - I promise you won't be disappointed. And now you won't even have to wait five years to read the sequel!

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