Friday, February 28, 2014

'Fly Away Home' by Rachel Heffington

A few weeks ago, I was going about my usual business. There I was, innocently blog-hopping and procrastinating when I came across The Inkpen Authoress, Rachel Heffington's blog. Her debut novel had just been released and she was hosting a giveaway on her blog. I read about her novel, 'Fly Away Home', and though it was a romance (which is not my genre), I was still intrigued. The synopsis was interesting, her characters sounded fascinating, it took place in the 1950's, AND it was about a journalist. What's not to like?

Long story short, I downloaded the Kindle version, read it in two days, and I absolutely loved it!

Without more of my melodramatics, here is the more professional part of the review... (spoiler free!)

"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."

When I began reading it, the first thing that grabbed my notice was the brilliant and flowing prose. It read easily, yet it had interesting wordplay and descriptions that made the novel very vivid and real. Along those same lines, the dialogue was well-done and realistic without being choppy. It flowed just as easily as the rest of the prose. I liked how the author used varying degrees of the 1950's language and slang to subtly show characters. Callie, for instance, uses the slang quite a lot so that it almost sounds forced at times...which fits perfectly with her glamour-yearning, popularity-seeking personality. Wade uses it naturally and casually, thus showing that he is not trying to be someone he's not. Not only did this show Rachel Heffington's cleverness in portraying characters, but also how well she had researched the era. 

I don't know much about the 1950's, but even I could tell that the author had clearly done her research. Differences and nuances in the culture were deftly explained in such a way that I rarely noticed the exposition. In reading historical novels (and some spec fic too) I sometimes feel like the author is so proud of his or her research that the exposition is massive and really annoying. I can't recall ever feeling like that while reading this novel. Instead, the research was only used to add to the story, not give an information-dump on the reader. Funny, I feel like I learned more about the 1950's from this subtle, non-obtrusive technique of sharing information than I do after reading an extremely expository novel. 

The characters were very interesting too. Callie Harper could be irritating at times, but I still found myself liking her, almost against my will. (Like a certain guy character in the novel...hmmm....) Wade was completely fascinating. He seemed very open and honest, yet he was mysterious too. As an aside, one of the reasons I don't typically like romances is because I find POV switches very trite and, for lack of a better word, lame. I'm talking about when the POV shifts from the male and female leads just to get their "feelings" on the happenings. I just don't like it. However, the few shifts sporadically placed throughout 'Fly Away Home' were very well done and creative and they helped drive the mystery sub-plot forward, while subtly giving the reader peeks at Wade's character. It was very effective, and I looked forward to those scenes.

As for the romance itself, it was very sweet and real. It followed the normal romance formula but avoided cliches. I liked how they began as friends and how they had plenty of time to grow in their friendship. On the whole, I liked it. 

'Fly Away Home' is so versatile, there are several different types of people who would probably enjoy it. If you like well-written romance novels with a Christian message, if you are a fan of the 1950's, if you like witty and funny characters, or if you are simply looking for a novel that the prose is a delight to read, this is the book for you! I do think the novel would be better for those ages 15+ though, because of the depth and undertones. All in all, I give this book 5/5 stars! 

Don't forget to check it out on Amazon!: Fly Away Home

1 comment:

  1. Jack just bought this book to take with her on her trip. I'd say I have plans to read it, but I don't read. I have too much to do. (I'm Striker, by the way. Since you can't see which I am.) But, she said kind of the same thing as you. She doesn't normally read romance, but it sounded good so she plans to read it. (Something like that.)

    Yes, I think kidnapping ones Author isn't wise. But, does one talk sense into Elves? Jack has been bossing Trystan around though and making him work for his evil deeds. Keeps things interesting around here. And she has been reading a lot, so I think she is happy.
    Except, she said to say she read your reply to her comment on Coal and sorry doesn't make up for it and when she was reading the rest of the book she kept wanting to cry because she missed him. (But she also said to say she finished the book and loved it and wants the second.) And I will let her go on and on about it when she is freed. Because I hate being in the middle. That is Trystan's job.