Tuesday, March 12, 2013

on the shelf: fly away home

today I'm quite pleased to introduce a new authoress to y'all, and a story that has quickly become a favorite, and one near and dear to my heart. I love stories that are written by my friends, and I especially love it when I get to watch the process from start to finish. this one's a keeper, and I wouldn't be surprised if one could find it happily resting on a shelf in Barnes and Noble someday.

old nyc

fly away home by miss rachel heffington

This is the story of Calida Harper - an young writer working in a less-than-satisfying job with undesirable office mate and boss. She has a sense of humor, but life and the world have turned her cynical. Her big break comes unexpectedly one hot afternoon (as she's writing an especially difficult obituary) in the person of Mr. Wade Barnett. He's interested in starting a new periodical for families, and he wants Callie to help get it off the ground. And after that…well…

It's a story with many unexpected twists and turns, and kept me hooked and thoroughly entertained from start to finish. Rachel has a true gift for writing dialogue - it reminded me very much of Oscar Wilde or O. Henry's work. What makes her characters so believable is the references to everyday things, example:
"Mr. Barnett stopped playing with the purse-tassel and looked at me with his head to one side. I averted my gaze and ran my fingers through my hair. Drat—that nail was still snagging." - Callie Harper
Fly Away Home is set in the 1950s - such a rich time period for culture and fashion and all that jazz. I felt like I was in a time machine. The subtle references to the distinctions of the day as refers to appliances, cars, style, popular figures, etc. really set the stage so that you don't even have to think about it.
Stork Club

And, because this IS Rachel Heffington, there are multiple Dickens references thrown in. *wink*
“Be prepared, Miss Harper—I want you to meet some of my friends.” His eyes twinkled and his voice strained as if he struggled not to laugh. Knowing Mr. Barnett—or not knowing him, as the case may be—I wasn’t sure whether to prepare myself for Attila the Hun or Ham Peggotty. - Callie Harper
And the characters….each one special in his or her own way. From the gentle humor of Mr. Barnett, to the blunt, witty Callie, to the lovable, straightforward, Italian Annamaria, the sickeningly slick and arrogant Jules, the amusingly sweet and pathetic Jerry….they all carry the story.

I did not find it hard to relate to Callie. While we are two very different personalities, I found our thought processes are very similar, and found myself thinking, "yes, yes, I would totally say that…wait, I DO say that…" Callie's past have hardened her to love and joy, but she isn't a lost cause. With the right touch, she blossoms and her true personality comes out. That, to me, was one of the most beautiful parts of the story.

I also loved the Christian thread. It's not overpowering, doesn't detract from the story, it *enhances* it. Just like a relationship with Jesus Christ should enhance our daily life, not detract from it. Mr. Barnett's quiet, yet strong faith adds a beautiful level of depth and redemption to the narrative.

“Course she does.” Mr. Barnett put one hand on my shoulder and another on the woman’s. “Annamaria, of course she does her best. None of us is perfect. I’m not half as good a ‘boy’ as I ought to be, so help me Lord Jesus.”
Curious, I cocked a brow and watched him, expecting to find an expression of mock piety on his face. There was none, and my stomach clenched. Annamaria’s gaze descended heavy upon me and if we’d been on a see-saw I would have gone sailing from the sudden weight. 
Of course, because I have been keeping up with this book since Rachel began posting her progress on her blog, I also have stood by and watched as she developed the characters…and both of us have this irreplaceable image of our beloved Gregory Peck as Mr. Wade Barnett. I must say, he does fit the character rather spectacularly, so it doesn't hurt to have that mental image. *grin*

Aww...dear Mr. Barnett :)
"If you would put in a prayer or two for us, I would be very grateful. No offense intended toward you, Maralie, but Tobias: how on earth do you handle a woman? They don’t think in any logical pattern that I can see." ~ Mr. Wade Barnett
Did I mention this book is quite quotable as well?

Honestly, I'm not sure what else to say without giving away the story. And believe me, you will want to go into knowing as little as possible in order to enjoy it fully the first time. Besides, I can't even summarize the plot…it just is what it is. I'm pathetic, I know, but there it is. I've always been a terrible summarizer/narrator anyway.

I believe Fly Away Home is a classic-to-be. How it could not be is beyond me. It's brilliant. It's engaging. It's humorous. And it's a beautiful picture of God's love for us, and the redemption He sent in Christ. I can't recommend it enough.

Guess all that's left to do is give it a rating, and leave you all to mob Rachel, begging her to publish it so you all can read it too *grin*

giving this 5 out of 5 stars.

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