Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy
Published by: Algonquin Young Readers
Released: March 28 2017 (US)
Read: March 31 2017
Andrew McCarthy was always my favourite brat packer, so I couldn’t resist requesting his YA novel from Netgalley. It took me too long to get to it, so I apologise that this review isn’t out before the book, which was released on March 31, just a few days ago.
I have been interested in comments at GR that basically say ‘why is this middle aged man just now starting to write from a young girl’s point of view?’ I found an interview with McCarthy on the Publishers Weekly site, and think he answers some of these questions quite satisfactorily.
The story itself is not new, but the 15 year old protagonist Lucy is fresh and flawed. She is quite immature, and doesn’t handle the abrupt change in her family life very well. She seems to immediately ditch her one friend and take up with another which leads to her meeting Simon, a goofy, wise boy, who swiftly becomes an anchor to the angry lost Lucy.
McCarthy’s style is factual and descriptive. Lucy’s narration tells us she is angry with her father and her rebellious, often selfish actions reflect this. It takes a lot to warm to her, and I found I was halfway through the book before I liked her. But I did like Simon straight away, and thought McCarthy created other interesting and authentic secondary characters, who add depth to the novel, including Lucy’s grandfather and her younger sister who is hiding a secret of her own.
Lucy’s literal and figurative journeys show how unpredictable and fragile life can be. She spends a lot of time in her own head, sorting through her emotions, and she often falls short of our expectations. I wanted her to be less judgmental and more forgiving, but ultimately she proves to be a worthy and admirable hero. She’s actually quite strong and when she finally listens to the people around her, Lucy is also compassionate and pro-active. There are a couple of scenes with Thomas that are quite affecting.
Thanks to publishers and Netgalley for approving my copy to read.
Recommended to readers who like their contemporary stories full of ups and downs, characters who don’t behave how they should, and a quirky and sweet romance. Family is the main ingredient here, and Lucy’s shows the importance of communication and the dangers of keeping secrets. There is some sexual content and some reference to drug use, but it’s not gratuitous or condoned.
Released in the US last week, March 28.