Book Review: Fly Away Home by Rachel Heffington

15 February 2014

This book, to use the vernacular of its author, is an absolutely ducky read. When Rachel was planning her blog tour to celebrate Fly Away Home's release and asked if I'd be interested in featuring the novel, I decided that the best option would be to put up a review. I had the opportunity to read it in one of its draft stages, and I wanted to review it, but having no cover to attach with the post (trivial, I know, but a review is bland without a pretty cover), I delayed. Today, just one day after Fly Away Home hit the publishing world with a splendid bang, you can see what I thought of this story about the clash between the material and the eternal.

Fly Away Home
By Rachel Heffington

Self preservation has never looked more tempting. 

1952 New York City: 
Callie Harper is a woman set to make it big in the world of journalism. Liberated from all but her buried and troubled past, Callie craves glamour and the satisfaction she knows it will bring. When one of America's most celebrated journalists, Wade Barnett, calls on Callie to help him with a revolutionary project, Callie finds herself co-pilot to a Christian man whose life and ideas of true greatness run noisily counter to hers on every point. 

The new friendship sparks, the project soars, and a faint suspicion that she is fall for this uncommon man grows in Callie's heart. When the secrets of Callie's past are exhumed and hung over her head as a threat, she is forced to scrutinize Wade Barnett and betray his dirtiest secrets or see her own spilled. 

Here there is space for only one love, one answer: betray Wade Barnett to save her reputation, or sacrifice everything for the sake of the man she loved and the God she fled. The consequences of either decision will define the rest of her life.

My Thoughts: First, I should set the record straight and say that I rarely read recently-published historical romance. The quality of the writing and the feel of the era tend to be sacrificed on the altar of romance and audience reception. Myself, I'd rather tuck away in a corner with some obscure old classic in which the author actually knew what he was doing. But Fly Away Home is so different from your typical historical romance, as anyone who knows Rachel Heffington could predict. The flavor of the time period, the characterization, the dialogue, and the plot progression are all so well executed that it leaves most historical romance "one hundred yards behind, trying to catch up."

This novel is terribly fun, soaked in the colorful history of the era and sprinkled with Hepburnism, but it's not fluff. Rachel deals with some more serious issues in Callie's scarred past, and her light and witty tone thinly obscures the deeper themes she threads underneath. At its heart, Fly Away Home is a story about a lost and illusioned young woman coming face to face with the reality of society. Mr. Barnett's influence — sometimes subtle, sometimes distinct — works on her heart, and though she flounders and rebels, it forces her to analyze the values she's always held close. Is material success really satisfying? Do I have to hide the dark secrets of my past? Is there another way for me to live a happy life? Rachel answers these questions and more in a creative, endearing, and ultimately thought-provoking novel. This is a book worth picking up.

Pros: The witty dialogue is definitely the strongest aspect of Fly Away Home, with the characters falling close behind. Callie and Mr. Barnett meet contrarily on several core issues, and the resulting banter and occasional verbal sparring are diverting to read. I knew I'd love Wade Barnett from the moment Rachel introduced him on her blog, but Callie surprised me, drew me to her with the combined effect of her mottled past and still mottled present, and I enjoyed her honesty and her occasional absurdities. She and Mr. Barnett make a fantastic team. As a caveat, I appreciated every little hat-tip to the time period or a work of classic fiction. Dickens, Wodehouse, and Chesterton all receive a subtle nod, and this was enough to thrill my literary soul.

Cons: One of the characters is rumored to be having an affair, but the supposed circumstances are not detailed. Mr. Barnett comes across as preachy on some occasions, and some of his speeches seem a little out of character and heavy-handed. The theology is sound, though, and creatively presented the majority of the time.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I recommend this book for ages 15+ because of the more mature themes. 

A Bit o' Reading For the Day:
"Who do we love stories? Why are we addicted to knowing what happened? Because we are part of a Story. A drama. We were made for something more than this—we are always seeing glimpses, hearing news, feeling breezes from the Ever-after. And because we do not acknowledge that we are beings—souls—created for eternity, we are left with an empty ache. We refuse to see our story, and thus we lead empty half-lives, under the shadow of a longing for something—Someone—we push away." — Fly Away Home

rachel heffington, author of Fly Away Home

Rachel Heffington is a Christian, a novelist, and a people-lover. Outside of the realm of words, Rachel enjoys the Arts, traveling, mucking about in the kitchen, listening for accents, and making people laugh. She dwells in rural Virginia with her boisterous family and her black cat, Cricket. Visit her at The Inkpen Authoress to learn more about her upcoming projects!

Rachel's giving away two authographed copies of Fly Away Home on her blog this week — go enter!

2 epistles:

  1. I really cant wait to read this novel, even just for the sake of supporting someone whose in the same boat as we are, but also because I can tell she is a fantastic writer. I love that you included cons as well as pros, it shows your not afraid to just tell the truth as you see it just because you know of the writer and want to be as loyally kind as possible. I cant wait to get some extra cash and read away. Ofh and I agree with you about a corner and a classic, those go well together.
    Blessings ~ Rachel Hope

  2. I agree about Fly Away Home,Elizabeth. Lovely review! I should wish to write a review, but since I read the draft on my computer screen over a year ago, I feel I really want to reserve my thoughts for when I have read the published version :)


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