4.0 1
by Linda Newbery

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Flightsend: Charlie's new home. She's not sure how she feels about living in a quiet village where nothing much happens. She loves the disused airfield nearby, though. Then, discovering a memorial cross in the undergrowth, she unearths a mystery leading very close to home. See more details below


Flightsend: Charlie's new home. She's not sure how she feels about living in a quiet village where nothing much happens. She loves the disused airfield nearby, though. Then, discovering a memorial cross in the undergrowth, she unearths a mystery leading very close to home.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in an English village, this novel has the feel of an earlier time (it was first published in the U.K. in 1999). Charlie has just moved with her mother, Kathy, to a neglected 150-year-old country cottage, Flightsend, where they hope for a new start after Kathy’s miscarriage. Descriptive passages of riotous plant life permeate many scenes (“and now here were the aconites, floating like golden lilies on the dark soil”). Kathy’s newfound optimism, apparently partly fueled by medication, is juxtaposed with Charlie’s anxieties about her social life, though, for 16, she is remarkably supportive and nurturing, so little tension is created. Instead, Newbery’s (At the Firefly Gate) story wanders through a series of benign events, such as the arrival of a handsome German pilot who gives meaning to the name of the cottage and eventually becomes Kathy’s beau. Charlie finds herself drawn to and attracting attention from her lecherous art teacher, and she longs for another man as well—her mother’s ex-boyfriend. Yet these potentially dangerous entanglements are, like the vegetation, eventually tamed. The result is a pleasing, quiet coming-of-age story. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Charlie and her mother are moving. Kathy has quit her job at Charlie's school; the house has been sold; and Sean, Kathy's long-term live-in boyfriend, has been ousted. The only thing left is to find a new home, and a place to recover from the grief of losing Rose, Kathy and Sean's stillborn daughter, who had been so happily anticipated months before. Though Charlie doesn't want to go, she tries to be supportive of her mother when they move to Flightsend, a house in the middle of a nowhere village, and Kathy begins her gardening business, a far cry from her former teaching career. What Charlie doesn't realize is that Flightsend is exactly what both of them need. This gentle novel is about the teen's journey to maturity. Though not immature to begin with, she learns that the events of her first summer at Flightsend open new paths and understandings of herself and the adults around her. The characters are wonderfully developed. The leisurely plot unfolds quietly, meandering through Charlie's life and endearing her to readers. Put this book in the hands of teens who enjoy Sarah Dessen and know that they will not be disappointed.—Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL
Kirkus Reviews
Just when her life seems to be falling apart, an English teen gains fresh perspective when she and her mother relocate to a rural village. After her baby sister is stillborn, 16-year-old Charlie watches her mother's depression spiral into a midlife crisis. Seeking total change, Charlie's mum pushes away her partner, Sean, resigns her teaching position and moves to Flightsend, a gloomy cottage she hopes will signal the end "to everything that's gone wrong." Charlie tries to be supportive but fears her mother's plans will dissolve along with Charlie's own social life. Gradually, however, Charlie finds a job, new friends and artistic talents and discovers she's a country girl at heart. To her surprise, life at Flightsend may be just the beginning she and her mother need. Set against the contemporary countryside and teeming with English idioms, this is a quiet, reflective story of a remarkably mature teen who confronts her challenging modern life with lots of old-fashioned sense and sensibility. Should appeal to like-minded female readers. (Fiction. 12-16)
Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
This coming-of-age novel by a veteran author depicts contemporary life in a rural English village as seen through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Charlie, short for Charlotte. Written in the English vernacular, this well crafted tale begins with Charlie and her mother, Kathy's adjustment to the recent death of newborn baby Rose, the child of Kathy and her (younger) boyfriend, Sean. Charlie's father left long ago when Charlie was two-years-old. Kathy's response to the death of her baby is to shut Sean out of her life, quit her teaching job, and move to a rural part of town to begin a plant nursery. Charlie is confused by her feelings of loss for her baby sister and her mother's rejection of Sean who had been living with them as family for five years. School is almost out for the summer and Charlie takes a job as a waitress at a local bed and breakfast. Her summer is an eventful one as new people come into her life through her work but also share connections to each other either through the cottage, Flightsend, where they reside or through the school which Charlie attends and where Sean and Kathy were teachers. Charlie's struggle to understand her mother's actions as well as her own feelings takes the reader through the emotional ups and downs of a teenage girl growing up in twenty-first century England. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
VOYA - Kelly Czarnecki
Charlie's (short for Charlotte) world is changing faster than is comfortable. Her mother, Kathy, recently suffered a miscarriage and a breakup with Sean, the baby's father, who is also the PE teacher at Charlie's school. Their house is being sold, and a new one, called Flightsend, is bought early on in the book. Not surprisingly, Charlie starts rebuilding her life in her new neighborhood. She gets a waitressing job at Nightingales and befriends a dog named Caspar that becomes a household pet. She reflects on her life when taking long walks to a now defunct airfield. Pieces continue to fall into place for both Charlie and Kathy, but not without a lot of stops and starts. This tender story will likely attract the reader who appreciates small details and complex characters. Unfortunately the cover art for the book, a watercolor with Charlie walking Caspar on a path, will entice few teens. Also, the setting of the book is England; while some of the vocabulary can be overlooked or understood by the context, many words and expressions are so far removed from how most teens in the United States speak, much less understand, that a short glossary would be very helpful. Despite these problems, it is a heart-warming tale with a well-developed plot. Reviewer: Kelly Czarnecki

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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2 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Flightsend arrived on their doormat, in an envelope from the estate agent.

‘This looks interesting,’ said Kathy, opening her letters by the toaster. ‘Here, see what you think.’

She passed one of the printed sheets to Charlie. These arrived so often now that Charlie had stopped taking much notice. At first, she and her mother had read them all carefully, making comparisons, highlighting important points; they’d visited countless unsuitable houses and had learned to read through estate-agent jargon. Even now, with the Sold notice in their front garden and the buyers waiting to move in, most of the printed sheets went straight into the recycling bin: too expensive, not enough garden, too big, too small. If a house looked promising enough for a visit, Kathy went on her own, always – so far – returning disappointed.

With each reject, each sheaf of papers to hit the bin, Charlie’s hopes rose. Perhaps Mum would give up the idea of moving. They’d take down the Sold board and stay here, close to the town centre, close to her friends. Close to the life she knew.

But the life they knew was the one Kathy wanted to get away from.

On Thursday, while Charlie was at school, Kathy went to see Flightsend.

‘It’s perfect!’ she reported. ‘There’ll be a lot of work, but it’s just what I’ve been waiting for. You’ll love it, Charlie. Just wait till you see.’

They went together on Saturday, a raw autumn day that was more like winter, stirring memories of foggy mornings and afternoons dark by four-thirty.

‘You’ll have to navigate. These country lanes are a maze.’ Kathy put the road atlas on Charlie’s lap. ‘Here.’ She pointed at a tiny black cluster around a road junction. Lower Radbourne.

‘It’s a long way from town,’ Charlie said doubtfully. ‘A long way from anywhere.’

Kathy craned her neck to reverse out of the driveway. ‘Yes! A real village. Pub, village shop, church.’

And what am I supposed to do for a social life? Charlie wondered.

She didn’t ask. Mum would only remind her – as if she needed reminding – that GCSEs were looming, mocks and then the real thing. As they left the town and took a country lane between hedges, Kathy sat forward, her eyes scanning the road as if her perfect house, her dream cottage, might have moved itself closer to surprise her. Dried leaves clung to the beech hedges on either side; an open gate showed a muddy field entrance, rutted and puddled. Charlie saw horses sheltering in an open-sided barn and sheep huddled against a hedge. Ahead, a ploughed field rose to a line of tousled trees and an unpromising grey sky. Nothing looked very cheerful today, but Kathy was humming to herself as she slowed down and pulled over to the verge for a Land Rover coming the other way. The driver raised a hand in acknowledgement; Charlie glimpsed a peaked tweed cap.

‘These roads are so narrow,’ Kathy said. ‘It must be difficult getting a coach round the bends.’


‘Coach. Bus. School transport,’ Kathy said.

She’s made up her mind, Charlie thought, before I’ve even seen the place. Well, I’d better decide to like it, then.
There was no one about in the village. The main street kinked at odd, awkward angles: a dog-leg by the pub, two sides of a triangle round a village green. Lower Radbourne consisted of one substantial Georgian house behind a gated wall; a pub, The Bull and Horseshoes; a tiny shop and Post Office with an open sign on the door, and a scattering of cottages and small houses.

‘Here’s the church,’ Kathy said. ‘Norman, I should think.’

Charlie saw a lych-gate set in a hedge; farther back, gravestones and a sturdy building with a tower and an arched porch. Kathy turned sharp right down a track beside the churchyard wall, then pulled up.
‘This is it!’

They got out of the car. Charlie turned up her coat collar against the wind. The cottage, uninhabited for six months and wearing an air of abandonment, stood alone, sheltered by the churchyard yews. There was a tangled front garden, with a gate that hung lopsidedly from one hinge. Flightsend had blank, staring windows, and a porch that would probably collapse if no one did anything about it. In need of renovation, Charlie thought. And soon.

‘What does it mean, Flightsend?’ she asked.

‘I don’t know. Flightsend. Flight’s End. Well, that’s what it is, isn’t it? An end to – well, to everything that’s gone wrong.’
Charlie thought: I don’t want ends. I want beginnings. The gloom of the place settled round her like fog. She thought of long winter evenings marooned here, miles from her friends. We’ll be castaways, she thought, me and Mum. Flight’s End was making her think not of settled contentment but of clipped wings, of pinioned birds.

From the Hardcover edition.

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