Learning to Fly

Learning to Fly

4.3 11
by April Henry

View All Available Formats & Editions

A fiery chain-reaction accident leaves Free Meeker with someone else’s bag and the hitchhiker she picked up dead. Nineteen-year-old Free discovers the bag contains nearly a million dollars-and that the hitchhiker’s body has been identified as hers. Fate seems to be handing her the chance to start over-or is it? Originally from St. Martins, named to

…  See more details below


A fiery chain-reaction accident leaves Free Meeker with someone else’s bag and the hitchhiker she picked up dead. Nineteen-year-old Free discovers the bag contains nearly a million dollars-and that the hitchhiker’s body has been identified as hers. Fate seems to be handing her the chance to start over-or is it? Originally from St. Martins, named to Library Journal best books of 2002.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After three books (the Agatha- and Anthony-nominee Circles of Confusion, etc.) featuring an amateur sleuth whose day job involves making sure people don't create any nasty messages with their vanity license plates, Henry has produced a stand-alone thriller that is far darker and uglier than any novel in her Claire Montrose series. A gruesome freeway pileup (52 vehicles, 14 deaths) has unexpected benefits for a young woman whose hippie parents named her Free: a new identity plus a bag containing $750,000 in drug money. When a passenger in her car, killed in the carnage, is mistakenly identified as Free, suddenly our pregnant, unemployed heroine has a way out of her problems and the money to finance it. She becomes Lydia, and assembles a new life in what she believes is the safe obscurity of another woman's persona. But then two dangerous men start to track her: a vicious drug dealer, who wants his money back, and Lydia's sicko husband, who wants his punching-bag wife back. In tone, mood and structure, this is a major departure from the Claire Montrose adventures, and fans may not forgive the author for depriving them of their favorite guessing game (try deciphering 6ULDV8, or CUNQRT). The harrowing accident scene (based loosely on a real event) that opens the story is very strong, but its promise goes largely unfulfilled by a fair-to-middling middle and then a predictable ending. All told this is but a passable thriller that lacks the originality readers of Henry's earlier books have come to expect. 2BAD. NYSTRY, but NTKWT. (May 20) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Pregnant and single, Free Meeker picks up a female hitchhiker on her way to Oregon. A massive pile-up on the interstate wrecks her car and kills her passenger, who is mistakenly identified as Free. Unwittingly retrieving a bag of money from a drug courier's car, Free seizes the opportunity to begin life anew and assumes the identity of the dead hitchhiker. Unfortunately, the hitchhiker's angry, abusive husband and a very determined drug dealer come looking for her. Henry's fourth novel (after Heartshaped Box, her third Claire Montrose mystery) features a most interesting plot, told with easy grace, choice characterization, and mounting tension. For most collections of mystery and suspense; libraries on the West Coast may also want to highlight this intriguing Portland-based writer. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The 52-car chain-reaction pile-up that leaves Free Meeker's hitchhiking passenger Lydia dead and a young lad named Jamie screaming for his Nike bag but dying before Free can find it and bring it to him opens up fabulous possibilities for the nose-ringed, head-shaved, pregnant, and unwed Free. Since she's listed as dead in the accident report, she can absorb Lydia's ID and live off the stash�nearly a million bucks, presumably in drug-courier money�in Jamie's Nike bag. Free moves on to Portland, rents space in a newly divorced woman's house, signs up for birthing classes, and�as eyewitness to another, more modest car accident�meets good-guy cop Craig, but doesn't let him in on her subterfuges. Since Lydia's abusive husband is determined to find his runaway wife, and Jamie's drug boss needs that bag of money to pay off the syndicate, they're both soon in hot pursuit of the now wigged, ringless, and conservatively garbed Free. The husband, whose adrenaline has kicked into high at the prospect of thrill-killing, and the drug honcho, who has no recriminations about murdering to meet his payoffs, are soon circling around Free, whose stress level is causing her to go into false labor. The inevitable confrontation results in more casualties, a confession, and the relinquishing of what's left in the Nike bag. A two-hankie endangered-woman saga, buoyed by Free's rebellion against her hippie parents and her feelings about sharing her body space with a stranger. A nice change of pace from Henry's Claire Montrose series (Heart-Shaped Box, 2001, etc.).

Read More

Product Details

April Henry
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
368 KB

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Learning to Fly 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have only read the sample, got really pissed when it said [end of sample] and i cant wait to read the rest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lisa Wicoff More than 1 year ago
Not what I have come to expect from this author. Try Girl Lost, Shock Point, or Torched instead. It was interesting, but not a thriller in my opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NurseKelley More than 1 year ago
This book was good, until the ending. I would have liked to see an epilogue that would more fully tie up the loose endings in the book. This book is about a young girl (named Free) who is the daughter of two drug-using hippies and who has a loser cheating boyfriend. Free is believed to be dead following a massive car pile up, leaving her car burned up along with Lydia, a stranger she had offered a ride to. After trying to assist another stranger in the wreck (named Jamie, a drug runner) she discovers a large sum of money (drug money). Jamie later dies and Free assumes Lydia's identity and takes the money to start a new life. She really has no one who cares very much for her, and she has found out she is pregnant. She wants to make a better life for her and her baby. Although she has some moral dilemma about keeping the money, she goes ahead and leaves town with it. Making only a few mistakes to hiding her identity, she is being tracked by the drug dealer Don, whom the money belongs to, and Lydia's very abusive and crazed husband Roy, who is unaware that Lydia is dead. Along the way, she makes two very good friends, Lexi, the woman from whom she rents a room, and Craig, a cop who appears to be falling for her, but from whom Free is trying to keep her distance, in order to keep her secrets hidden. The finale sees Free between the crazed husband and the drug dealer, fighting for her life. I would have given this title maybe another 1/2 a star if the author had given a better glimpse into Free's future and what she was going to do with her life. I don't want to give away the ending, but I would have liked to see it turn out a little better for Free. Although Free seemed happy with the ending, I would like to have seen Free with the money, the guy, and minus all the loser-baggage that were part of her former life. But, not everything has a fairy tale ending! :) Very good read. I would recommend this one. Very interesting plot. Have not read anything quite like this one. Also, very well written. P.S. Enjoyed the little interesting side details, like Don with his alopecia and tattooed eyebrows. Never considered before how lack of hair in the nose could cause such problems! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I understand this novel is a departure for the author. If so, she she should stay on the road now taken. This is a story whose plot grabs the reader by the throat and doesn't let go. Who hasn't occasionally fantasized about starting over, with a new identity, and of course plenty of money handy to help out? Free Meeker thinks SHE can get away with it, then soon learns the dark side of starting anew - with illegal money. April Henry ratchets up the suspense with each chapter, and spikes her story with unexpected humor (especially the descriptions of the hippy lifestyle Free reluctantly grew up in). This is a book that makes you resentful of any interruptions while you're reading!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've never read April Henry before, but I enjoyed this book so much that I'm looking forward to picking up some of her other titles. The first chapter, detailing a multi-car wreck on the interstate during a dust storm is a superb piece of writing. Surviving the wreck, heroine Free Meeker, a very interesting character, decides to assume the identity of a woman killed in her car. The plot kicks into high gear then and never slows down. A very entertaining book. I had a hard time putting it down.