Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When She Flew - A Novel by Jennie Shortridge, Book Review

Since the beginning of the year I've read forty-seven novels, a dozen or so non-fiction tomes, countless magazine, newspaper and web articles, blogs, cereal boxes, instruction manuals, salsa jars, deodorizer cans..you get the idea, I read a lot.  Most writers are insatiable readers and I am no exception in that regard.

On this blog this year, I have reviewed seven books, mostly mysteries or thrillers.  That means I haven't written reviews for forty books.  Mostly because more than a few have been classics revisited or first visited.  Some have been back lists of writers whose work I have discovered and come to respect but that may not currently be widely available.  A few that just weren't particularly good and I just don't want to waste my-or your-time with them.  Some were published that shouldn't have been and a couple that haven't been that should be.

Recently I finished a book--When She Flew--by Jennie Shortridge that should be on everyone's must-read list.  This richly woven tapestry explores the human condition through the eyes of a 13 year old girl suddenly snatched from her home--albeit it an unconventional one--and a female cop pushing 40 looking back at a life of lost opportunities and regrets.  A cop who tried so hard to protect her own now-estranged daughter that she forgot she sometimes just needed to be mom.

At the unlikely intersection of these lives a haunted war veteran struggles to maintain his own grip on normality while providing a life for his daughter.  A handful of cops each weigh their legal obligations with what their hearts and experience tell them is the right thing to do, and a compassionate intercessor makes the unthinkable a possibility.

This is a sensitive and revealing portrait of how we treat our veterans--no just of wars on distant shores--but also in our neighborhoods and streets.  But it is also a searing assessment of how impersonal bureaucracies and an ever increasing sensation-driven media grind up real lives in their unfeeling machinery.

When She Flew is a talisman for our times and deserves a space in our consciousness reserved for books that so poignantly define an era that they forever change hearts and minds.  So long as books are read, this one ought to live among the giants.

Widely available including electronically at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

When She Flew  by Jennie Shortridge
New American Library ( A Penguin Imprint )
ISBN: 978-0-451-22798-0

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