Jennie Shortridge’s When She Flew is a beautifully written novel about pivotal decisions and their unexpected consequences. Told from the point of view of Officer Jessica Villareal and Melinda aka Lindy Wiggs, the novel shifts from the legal ramifications of Villareal’s decision not to split up Melinda from her family and Melinda’s experiences with her Iraq War veteran father, her drug addicted mother, and her new home. The novel is peppered with beautiful imagery and a number of passages with birds, which emphasize flight and escape.
“Pater keeps looking out the windows, walking from on to the other, hitching up his pants. he reminds me of a finch, all nervous and fidgety, eyes darting this way and that.” (Page 255)
Lindy’s narration focuses mainly on the love of the forest in which she lives, of her father, and even of her mother whom she left behind, but there are glimpses into the terrible events of her life under the guardianship of her mother while her father served his country. She misses her mother, but for the most part there is a sense of contentment until one day she follows a blue heron too far.
“The central library was my favorite building. It’s like going to a palace full of books. I feel like a princess or an important person when I walk up the steps toward that huge brick building with its pretty windows and a roof that looks like a steeple, and go inside the tall oak doors, and the man in uniform smiles and says, ‘Good afternoon.’ I feel even more like royalty when we glide across the shiny stone floor. Everything is so elegant that I want to just stand and look but Pater always says to hurry along.” (Page 14)
Officer Villareal is a mother who hasn’t exactly lived up to her own expectations as an officer or as a mother, but she copes with her circumstances by working and burying herself in memories of her daughter Nina, who escaped her mother’s tight supervision to live with her father and raise her own son.
“The dirt dwellers she dealt with were like subterranean worms and bugs: drug dealers and pimps, abusive parents, gangsters and thieves. She had tried for years not to notice them when off duty, but she couldn’t help it.” (Page 5)
Shortridge’s prose is gorgeous and immediate, sucking readers into the world she’s created in the wilderness of Oregon and the small town outside the forest. When She Flew is about finding one’s convictions to break the mold and follow the right path. It is about striving to be better and to find the freedom to grow. Shortridge’s writing will blow readers away.
As an additional treat, later today, Jennie Shortridge will visit with us and talk about her writing, so stay tuned. Oh, and there will be a giveaway!
FTC Disclosure: Thank you to Jennie Shortridge and Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting fpr sending me a free copy of When She Flew for review. Links to book images and titles will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchases are necessary.