Flyaway, by Lucy Christopher

Dad’s watching a single swan flying much closer to use, circling slowly around the reserve. It’s a youngster, grayish and small…maybe a female. She’s all by herself. Left behind. I can tell by the way she keeps coming closer to the ground and then circling up again that she’s confused, unsure if she should land. For one crazy minute I wish that I could be up there with her, helping her fly…

Isla loves watching the swans with her Dad. Every winter they arrive, and Isla and Dad go to greet them. But this winter, something is different. Some of the swans are killed when they don’t see the new overhead power lines, and there’s something wrong with Dad, too. When he collapses, Isla feels life may never be the same.

At the hospital, Isla waits for news of her father, and makes a new friend, Harry. With Harry she spots a swan on the lake near the hospital, and connects with the swan in a way she never has before. The swan seems to need Isla’s help. IS the magical connection between them just in Isla’s imagination?

Flyaway is a beautiful novel, focussing on the connection between girl and bird, as well as her relationships with other teens, with her sick father and with the rest of her family. The storyline of the swan’s recovery parallels the other plotlines – Isla’s father’s illness, the fragmentation of his relationship with his own father, and the struggles of her new friend, Harry, as well as Isla’s own fragility because of all this turmoil and changes in her own life as well.

There is a lot happening but the stories entwine beautifully.

Flyaway, by Lucy Christopher
Chicken House, 2010

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