Takeoffs and Landings

( 11 )

Overview

A journey to the center of their hearts

Ever since their father's sudden death eight years ago, Chuck and Lori's mom has spent most of her time on the road as a motivational speaker, leaving them and their younger siblings in the care of their grandparents. But this trip is different; this time, their mother has invited Chuck and Lori along in an attempt to reconnect with her eldest — and now most distant — children.
Lori is so angry with her ...

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Overview

A journey to the center of their hearts

Ever since their father's sudden death eight years ago, Chuck and Lori's mom has spent most of her time on the road as a motivational speaker, leaving them and their younger siblings in the care of their grandparents. But this trip is different; this time, their mother has invited Chuck and Lori along in an attempt to reconnect with her eldest — and now most distant — children.
Lori is so angry with her mother for her constant absence she can barely look at her, and Chuck, as usual, tries to make himself invisible. From the start the trip seems doomed. But slowly, walls built up over the years begin to show cracks. Laser-sharp glares are finally and painfully turned inward. And in the end secrets are finally revealed — secrets that will change all of their lives forever....

An overweight, timid fifteen-year-old boy and his popular fourteen-year-old sister begin to overcome their guilt over their father's death and reconnect with each other and their emotionally-distant mother when they accompany her on a two-week speaking tour.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Despite an intriguing premise and format, Haddix's (Among the Imposters, reviewed June 11) novel may well stretch readers' credibility when years of problems are resolved in one brief summer trip. Siblings 15-year-old Chuck and 14-year-old Lori Lawson go on their first plane ride to join their motivational-speaker mother on a two-week five-city tour, and the teens end up learning about a lot more than fancy hotels and airports. Through Lori and Chuck's alternating perspectives (their mom breaks in occasionally to offer her point of view), readers discover just how angry the seemingly perfect Lori is towards her almost always absent mother and about overweight and clumsy Chuck's self-loathing they even learn why their mother won't talk about their father's death eight years ago. Haddix credibly maps out the Lawsons' dynamics and fills in some interesting details about growing up in agricultural Pickford County (in their chapters, Lori and Chuck discuss 4-H club and taking pigs to slaughter) but the three characters' chapters rotate so quickly that readers rarely get to settle into any one story line. The characters experience dramatic breakthroughs at the conclusion, each unearthing buried secrets from within themselves. But the revelations come too quickly and undermine the authenticity of the previous chapters. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
Two teen siblings go on their first plane ride to join their motivational-speaker mother on a two-week five-city tour. "The characters experience dramatic breakthroughs at the conclusion, but the revelations come too quickly and undermine the authenticity of the previous chapters," wrote PW. Ages 10-14. (Mar.)
KLIATT
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2001: Eight years ago, Chuck and Lori's father died in a tractor accident. Since then, they have lived on their grandparents' Ohio farm, along with their three younger siblings, while their mother jets around the country pursuing her new career as a motivational speaker. Now she has invited 15-year-old Chuck, overweight and insecure, and 14-year-old Lori, pretty and popular, to come with her on one of her trips, in an effort to reconnect with them. In chapters that alternate between the viewpoints of Lori, Chuck, and their mother, we see how the trip expands the teenagers' perspectives, as Chuck sneaks off to visit art museums and rediscovers his interest in drawing, while Lori gets a chance to experience the world beyond the farm and come to terms with her anger at what she feels is her mother's abandonment of them. Their mother finally tells them the details of their father's accident, and at the end, of course, the three have come to new realizations and forged new relationships with each other. This is predictable but well done, and the voices of the three characters are believable throughout all the emotional turmoil they experience. Haddix, the author of Turnabout, Just Ella, and other YA novels, is particularly good at conveying the viewpoint of a smart, sardonic teenage girl, torn between wanting to be close to her mother and wanting to push her away. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Simon & Schuster, Aladdin, 201p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature
Lori and Chuck lost their father eight years ago, and sometimes it seems that their mother has gone away, too. Nationally known as a motivational speaker, she now travels three weeks out of every four. This time she is taking them with her, to fly for the first time, stay in fancy hotels and eat at wonderful restaurants—to live for a time unlike their lives in Pickford County, Ohio. But misunderstandings threaten to ruin their trip, and maybe even their lives. Mom doesn't understand either teen. How can she? They spend most of their time with Gran and Pop, Mom's parents. The three seem to be growing more apart, rather than together, as Mom had hoped. Lori is concerned with popularity and "fitting in" with her crowd. The right clothes, hair, club memberships and having the right opinions are all-important. Her life does not include her brother. Poor Chuck doesn't fit in anywhere. He hates his life;he is fat and the butt of every practical joke school bullies can pull. He is no good at sports, his grandfather has no patience with him, he feels stupid and useless, and no one has ever praised him since first-grade. Lori is typical of a certain type of teenage girl—she knows how to twist the knife so skillfully that her mother is left gasping for breath, unable to respond. Chuck just wants to stay away from his sister. Gradually, they all seem to realize that they simply must get straightened out. Each takes tentative, but increasingly certain, steps to maturity. Each will reveal a secret, and when they finally get back to Pickford County it is with a new understanding of what family can mean. The portraits of both Lori and Chuck are touching and true, but the mother's picture isoutstanding. The chapters flash back and forth among the three, and the changes in points-of-view are handled smoothly. 2001, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $16.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer:Judy Silverman
VOYA
Long-held secrets and misunderstandings surface as fifteen-year-old Chuck and his younger sister, Lori, accompany their mother on a motivational speaking tour. Leaving their country farm for the first time, the two siblings fly across the United States, watching their mother captivate audiences with her speeches about the importance of time and living life in the present. These topics intrigue Chuck and Lori because they did not have much time with their father. Family life has been strained since his accidental death eight years earlier. Lori resents her mother's frequent absences, which are necessary to support their family. Chuck, overweight and shy, anxiously wishes everyone could get along. Their mother has her own issues that become painfully obvious to Chuck and Lori as the trip progresses. Told from the points of view of the three characters in alternating chapters, this absorbing story explores family dynamics and how destructive secrets can be. The characters of Lori, Mom, and Chuck each have their weaknesses and strengths yet are developed in such a way that the reader can empathize with all three. As the planes take off and land, family perceptions are challenged, emotions are shared, and resolution becomes a possibility. This introspective novel will appeal to readers who prefer psychology to action. Several topics of interest to teens are touched upon—Chuck is bullied in school, Lori is embarrassed by her brother's awkwardness, Mom uses her children as examples in her speeches—and the plot moves smoothly to a satisfying, if predictable, conclusion. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; MiddleSchool, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Simon & Schuster, 208p, $16. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer: Judy Sasges
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A family struggling with guilt and loss learns that repressing feelings can be harmful. Fourteen-year-old Lori Lawson is popular, deeply fearful of appearing "different," and has a narrow view of the world; in short, she's a fairly typical teen. Her 15-year-old brother Chuck is overweight, insecure, and the object of derision in their rural home town. Their mother is a successful motivational speaker who tries to repair her failing relationship with her oldest children by taking them on a lecture tour. Finally, they talk to one another about their feelings and misplaced guilt about the death of the teens' father many years earlier. Lori ultimately learns to be kinder to those she loves while Chuck finds salvation in art, gaining self-confidence and purpose. Their mother realizes she needs to share information about their father with her children. The novel's structure is interesting, alternating between third-person perspectives of Lori and Chuck interspersed with their mother's motivational speeches and her true feelings of powerlessness. The narrative voices are individually distinct and ring true for all three characters, none of whom is entirely blameless in the degeneration of their relationships. Haddix employs some effective imagery (Lori describes the three of them as "an island of silence"). Young teens will enjoy the generally melodramatic tone, finding satisfaction in the revelations that occur at the end.-B. Allison Gray, South Country Library, Bellport, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Pretty, popular Lori, 14, feels that just about all she has in common with her fat, slow, older brother Chuck is their mother, their father having died eight years ago. Even this shared connection seems pretty hollow to Lori, as their mother, an inspirational speaker, is on the road more often than not, leaving Lori, Chuck, and their three younger siblings at home with their grandparents in rural Ohio. The prospect of two weeks on tour with her mother, then, with Chuck in tow, is not her idea of a good time. The progress of this story is entirely predictable: Chuck and Lori each learn more about themselves and their mother; the increasing tension among all three characters comes to a head at the end of the trip; and they have a therapeutic air-clearing in which all psychological wounds are salved and the way is laid for more healthy relationships to begin to grow. While the resolution is never in doubt, the narrative technique that takes the reader there makes it worth the while. The third-person narration alternates between Chuck and Lori, and Haddix (Among the Impostors, p. 660, etc.) deftly creates two entirely distinct voices: Lori, an impatient, self-absorbed teen whose resentment toward her mother is palpable, and Chuck, a boy whose sense of self-worth is so low it is painful to witness. Their mother is occasionally allowed to break in with her own self-justifications, which, while they are psychologically consistent and serve to keep the plot moving, do not ring as true as the kids' narratives. Don't read this for the plot; read it for the sensitive explorations of character and emotion in a family under stress. (Fiction. 12-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689855436
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 605,244
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including The Missing series and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at HaddixBooks.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Lori

Lori stared at her lap. They hadn't even gotten on the plane yet, and already her sundress was a mass of wrinkles.

She'd been warned.

"Oh, that won't travel well," her mom had said when Lori came downstairs for breakfast that morning.

Gram had barely glanced up from flipping pancakes to add, "Why don't you wear one of those outfits your mother bought you?"

That was all Lori needed to hear.

"No," she said. "I want to wear this."

She hated the way she sounded saying that — like she was four, not fourteen. Gram only made it worse.

"She's so proud of making that dress in 4-H last year. Won an Outstanding of the Day ribbon, you know?" she said to Mom, as if Lori weren't right there listening — and perfectly able to speak for herself.

Lori wasn't proud of the dress. She knew the right side seam was just the tiniest bit wobbly, and the facing in the bodice never had lain right, no matter how many times Lori smashed it down with the iron. Plus, she was totally sick of the red-and-white flowered pattern of the material. She'd spent so much of last June and July cutting it, pinning it, sewing it, ripping out bad stitches in it....Her hands went sweaty just looking at it. But, with both Mom and Gram suggesting she change, she absolutely had to wear the dress.

Now, sitting in a contoured plastic seat at the airport, waiting to fly to Chicago, she wished she'd just put on one of her new outfits to begin with. Even though they came from Mom, those outfits were cool, in style, right. Already, Lori had seen six other girls wearing shirts and shorts just like the ones folded up in her suitcase. (For the record: No one else was wearing a squashed-up, homemade cotton sundress.) Mom had shopped at the Gap, Old Navy, even Abercrombie & Fitch. Some of Lori's friends would practically kill for the clothes Lori was refusing to wear.

What had she been thinking?

It was too bright in the airport. In the half-light of dawn that morning, as she'd tiptoed down the hall at home to peer in the full-length mirror without waking everyone up, Lori had had everything figured out. Her reflection had been perfect in that mirror. Her light brown hair arced just right, flowing to her shoulders. Her gray eyes sparkled. None of her stress-zits showed. Half in shadow, the dress was beautiful, perfectly fitted, maybe even the tiniest bit sultry. She'd watched a little fantasy in her mind: Lori walks into the airport with an air of confidence, striding as casually as if she'd been flying all her life. The crowd parts to make way for her. Everyone is in awe of her beauty, her style, her je ne sais quoi. Then someone steps forward. It is an incredibly handsome man — TV-star handsome, movie-star handsome, better looking than any guy in all of Pickford County. His fingers brush Lori's arm, and the mere touch sends a thrill through her body. (Did that ever really happen outside of romance novels? Lori decided it could.)

"Excuse me," he whispers. "I am a fashion designer. I must know — where did you get that incredible creation?"

"This old dress?" In her fantasies, Lori is humble as well as gorgeous. "I made it. It's a Butterick pattern."

"Oh, but you have transformed it," the man says. "You have genius as well as beauty. Will you — "

And then Lori was stuck. Did she really want this fantasy man admiring her sewing skills? She didn't even like to sew that much. And what was he going to offer her? A job? Not very romantic. A date? Come on, how old would this fantasy man have to be to be a successful fashion designer? She was only fourteen. It was kind of gross if he was too much older than that.

This was a problem Lori often had with fantasies. After a certain point, they just weren't very practical.

Lori might have changed her clothes right then, before she went downstairs. But there was already another fantasy playing in her head: Lori walks into the kitchen. Mom takes one look at her and stops short.

"You are not wearing that," she says. "Go change."

"What's wrong?" Lori taunts her. "Are you ashamed of me? Scared someone will find out you've kept your kids locked up in dinky old Pickford County while you're out traveling the world?"

Maybe Lori really would have had the nerve to say something like that, if Mom had out-and-out ordered her to change.

Maybe not.

Lori and her mother didn't really talk. Oh, they spoke in each other's presence — "Please pass the orange juice," "Can I see your report card?" "Do you want me to do the dishes?" — but it had been years, probably, since they'd exchanged any words that actually meant anything. Mom was never around long enough for Lori to move from "Please pass the orange juice" to anything she really wanted to say.

Lori toyed with one more fantasy. She could imagine having a different kind of mother, the kind Lori could sit and talk with for hours. The kind who could help Lori figure out what was going on inside her own head. Lori could imagine telling this perfect mother, You know what? I think maybe Gram was right. I did wear this dress because I was proud of it. I wanted people to see I was the kind of person who could make her own clothes if she had to. Like I'm as good as anybody out there, outside Pickford County. No — like I'm better. How could I have been so stupid? Why didn't anyone tell me how awful I looked?

Lori couldn't imagine saying that to her own mother in a million years. The kind of mother she could say that to wouldn't be taking her to Chicago right now.

That would be fine with Lori. She hadn't asked for this trip.

And the longer she sat in this strange, impersonal airport, the less she wanted to go. She felt uglier by the minute. She squirmed in her seat, embarrassed beyond words to be wearing such a horrible, homemade, crumpled sundress. Her hair had gone limp now, too, and her zits were probably as bright as neon signs. If anyone like that fashion designer she'd imagined was strolling through the airport right now, he'd run from her in horror. Probably all the other passengers were staring at her when she wasn't looking and laughing at her from behind their USA Todays and their John Grishams. Get a load of that girl over there. Ever seen such a hick?

Lori glanced around quickly, ready to glare at anyone hiding giggles. But the only person she caught looking in her direction was her brother Chuck.

Chuck was someone else Lori couldn't talk to. She'd practically forgotten he was there, practically forgotten he was going to be on this trip with her and Mom, too.

Chuck was easy to forget. He was big and fat and dumb. And that was what people said about him when they were trying to be kind.

Chuck looked away as soon as Lori's eyes met his. Ordinarily, that would have been fine with Lori. But she was so miserable today that his glance away made her feel rejected. Even fat, gross, sweating — ugh — Chuck couldn't stand to look at her. Lori bit her lip, holding back tears. Aside from Mom, who didn't really count, Chuck was the only person she knew in this whole crowded, overly bright airport. Part of her wanted to cling to Chuck, the way she'd clung to him all those years ago at Daddy's funeral.

Part of her wanted to slide down a few seats, so nobody would think they were together.

Mom came back from the bank of phones at the other end of the waiting area.

"Well, that's confirmed," she said. "One of the organizers will meet us at the airport, so we won't have to take the hotel shuttle."

They'd been away from home for only two hours, and already Mom sounded different. Her voice was crisper, more businesslike. She didn't seem like the same person who'd been reading bedtime stories last night to Lori's little sister, Emma, in a lulling, singsongy tone.

No wonder Lori could never talk to Mom at home. Mom-at-home was just a fake, some role she played while she waited for her next flight out.

"Excited?" Mom said, sitting down beside Lori. "Just think — your first plane trip."

Lori shrugged. If Mom couldn't see how far away Lori was from excitement, there was no way Lori could tell her.

Behind her, Chuck only grunted.

Good for Chuck, Lori thought, as if they'd chosen sides and Chuck were on her team. She wished he were. She wished he were someone she could talk to, confide in. She wanted to ask him: Why is Mom really taking us on this trip? It made no sense. She wished Chuck could explain it to her. After years of traveling on business, why had Mom suddenly decided to take Lori and Chuck with her?

But Chuck wasn't the type of person who had any answers. And it had been years and years and years since they'd been Chuck-and-Lori, inseparable pals. "Joined at the hip," Gram used to joke. Not anymore.

Around them, people were talking in little clusters. Two businessmen types were comparing golf scores. A family with a toddler laughed as the child careened from seat to seat: "Now, come back here and give Grandma a good-bye kiss," the mother implored.

Lori felt like she and Chuck and Mom were an island of silence in the midst of all that chatter. She wished suddenly that the rest of her siblings had come, too — eight-year-old Emma, ten-year-old Joey, and eleven-year-old Mike. Joey would be rattling off a list of questions: How fast can our airplane fly? What will the ground look like from up there? How high will we be? How many people will be on the airplane? Mike would be pretending he knew all the answers: It's thousands of miles an hour, right, Mom? And we'll definitely be above the clouds. Definitely. And Emma would have Mom's full attention, as usual: Do you remember when you told me that the clouds look like cotton balls up there? In the Raggedy Ann books, the clouds are bouncy, and you can jump from cloud to cloud. Could someone really do that?

Most of the time, Lori's younger brothers and sister drove her crazy. But if they'd come, they'd hide the fact that Chuck and Lori and Mom had nothing to say to one another.

Only, Mom hadn't invited them.

Copyright © 2001 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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First Chapter

Lori

Lori stared at her lap. They hadn't even gotten on the plane yet, and already her sundress was a mass of wrinkles.

She'd been warned.

"Oh, that won't travel well," her mom had said when Lori came downstairs for breakfast that morning.

Gram had barely glanced up from flipping pancakes to add, "Why don't you wear one of those outfits your mother bought you?"

That was all Lori needed to hear.

"No," she said. "I want to wear this."

She hated the way she sounded saying that -- like she was four, not fourteen. Gram only made it worse.

"She's so proud of making that dress in 4-H last year. Won an Outstanding of the Day ribbon, you know?" she said to Mom, as if Lori weren't right there listening -- and perfectly able to speak for herself.

Lori wasn't proud of the dress. She knew the right side seam was just the tiniest bit wobbly, and the facing in the bodice never had lain right, no matter how many times Lori smashed it down with the iron. Plus, she was totally sick of the red-and-white flowered pattern of the material. She'd spent so much of last June and July cutting it, pinning it, sewing it, ripping out bad stitches in it....Her hands went sweaty just looking at it. But, with both Mom and Gram suggesting she change, she absolutely had to wear the dress.

Now, sitting in a contoured plastic seat at the airport, waiting to fly to Chicago, she wished she'd just put on one of her new outfits to begin with. Even though they came from Mom, those outfits were cool, in style, right. Already, Lori had seen six other girls wearing shirts and shorts just like theones folded up in her suitcase. (For the record: No one else was wearing a squashed-up, homemade cotton sundress.) Mom had shopped at the Gap, Old Navy, even Abercrombie & Fitch. Some of Lori's friends would practically kill for the clothes Lori was refusing to wear.

What had she been thinking?

It was too bright in the airport. In the half-light of dawn that morning, as she'd tiptoed down the hall at home to peer in the full-length mirror without waking everyone up, Lori had had everything figured out. Her reflection had been perfect in that mirror. Her light brown hair arced just right, flowing to her shoulders. Her gray eyes sparkled. None of her stress-zits showed. Half in shadow, the dress was beautiful, perfectly fitted, maybe even the tiniest bit sultry. She'd watched a little fantasy in her mind: Lori walks into the airport with an air of confidence, striding as casually as if she'd been flying all her life. The crowd parts to make way for her. Everyone is in awe of her beauty, her style, her je ne sais quoi. Then someone steps forward. It is an incredibly handsome man -- TV-star handsome, movie-star handsome, better looking than any guy in all of Pickford County. His fingers brush Lori's arm, and the mere touch sends a thrill through her body. (Did that ever really happen outside of romance novels? Lori decided it could.)

"Excuse me," he whispers. "I am a fashion designer. I must know -- where did you get that incredible creation?"

"This old dress?"
In her fantasies, Lori is humble as well as gorgeous. "I made it. It's a Butterick pattern."

"Oh, but you have transformed it," the man says. "You have genius as well as beauty. Will you -- "

And then Lori was stuck. Did she really want this fantasy man admiring her sewing skills? She didn't even like to sew that much. And what was he going to offer her? A job? Not very romantic. A date? Come on, how old would this fantasy man have to be to be a successful fashion designer? She was only fourteen. It was kind of gross if he was too much older than that.

This was a problem Lori often had with fantasies. After a certain point, they just weren't very practical.

Lori might have changed her clothes right then, before she went downstairs. But there was already another fantasy playing in her head: Lori walks into the kitchen. Mom takes one look at her and stops short.

"You are not wearing that," she says. "Go change."

"What's wrong?" Lori taunts her. "Are you ashamed of me? Scared someone will find out you've kept your kids locked up in dinky old Pickford County while you're out traveling the world?"


Maybe Lori really would have had the nerve to say something like that, if Mom had out-and-out ordered her to change.

Maybe not.

Lori and her mother didn't really talk. Oh, they spoke in each other's presence -- "Please pass the orange juice," "Can I see your report card?" "Do you want me to do the dishes?" -- but it had been years, probably, since they'd exchanged any words that actually meant anything. Mom was never around long enough for Lori to move from "Please pass the orange juice" to anything she really wanted to say.

Lori toyed with one more fantasy. She could imagine having a different kind of mother, the kind Lori could sit and talk with for hours. The kind who could help Lori figure out what was going on inside her own head. Lori could imagine telling this perfect mother, You know what? I think maybe Gram was right. I did wear this dress because I was proud of it. I wanted people to see I was the kind of person who could make her own clothes if she had to. Like I'm as good as anybody out there, outside Pickford County. No -- like I'm better. How could I have been so stupid? Why didn't anyone tell me how awful I looked?

Lori couldn't imagine saying that to her own mother in a million years. The kind of mother she could say that to wouldn't be taking her to Chicago right now.

That would be fine with Lori. She hadn't asked for this trip.

And the longer she sat in this strange, impersonal airport, the less she wanted to go. She felt uglier by the minute. She squirmed in her seat, embarrassed beyond words to be wearing such a horrible, homemade, crumpled sundress. Her hair had gone limp now, too, and her zits were probably as bright as neon signs. If anyone like that fashion designer she'd imagined was strolling through the airport right now, he'd run from her in horror. Probably all the other passengers were staring at her when she wasn't looking and laughing at her from behind their USA Todays and their John Grishams. Get a load of that girl over there. Ever seen such a hick?

Lori glanced around quickly, ready to glare at anyone hiding giggles. But the only person she caught looking in her direction was her brother Chuck.

Chuck was someone else Lori couldn't talk to. She'd practically forgotten he was there, practically forgotten he was going to be on this trip with her and Mom, too.

Chuck was easy to forget. He was big and fat and dumb. And that was what people said about him when they were trying to be kind.

Chuck looked away as soon as Lori's eyes met his. Ordinarily, that would have been fine with Lori. But she was so miserable today that his glance away made her feel rejected. Even fat, gross, sweating -- ugh -- Chuck couldn't stand to look at her. Lori bit her lip, holding back tears. Aside from Mom, who didn't really count, Chuck was the only person she knew in this whole crowded, overly bright airport. Part of her wanted to cling to Chuck, the way she'd clung to him all those years ago at Daddy's funeral.

Part of her wanted to slide down a few seats, so nobody would think they were together.

Mom came back from the bank of phones at the other end of the waiting area.

"Well, that's confirmed," she said. "One of the organizers will meet us at the airport, so we won't have to take the hotel shuttle."

They'd been away from home for only two hours, and already Mom sounded different. Her voice was crisper, more businesslike. She didn't seem like the same person who'd been reading bedtime stories last night to Lori's little sister, Emma, in a lulling, singsongy tone.

No wonder Lori could never talk to Mom at home. Mom-at-home was just a fake, some role she played while she waited for her next flight out.

"Excited?" Mom said, sitting down beside Lori. "Just think -- your first plane trip."

Lori shrugged. If Mom couldn't see how far away Lori was from excitement, there was no way Lori could tell her.

Behind her, Chuck only grunted.

Good for Chuck, Lori thought, as if they'd chosen sides and Chuck were on her team. She wished he were. She wished he were someone she could talk to, confide in. She wanted to ask him: Why is Mom really taking us on this trip? It made no sense. She wished Chuck could explain it to her. After years of traveling on business, why had Mom suddenly decided to take Lori and Chuck with her?

But Chuck wasn't the type of person who had any answers. And it had been years and years and years since they'd been Chuck-and-Lori, inseparable pals. "Joined at the hip," Gram used to joke. Not anymore.

Around them, people were talking in little clusters. Two businessmen types were comparing golf scores. A family with a toddler laughed as the child careened from seat to seat: "Now, come back here and give Grandma a good-bye kiss," the mother implored.

Lori felt like she and Chuck and Mom were an island of silence in the midst of all that chatter. She wished suddenly that the rest of her siblings had come, too -- eight-year-old Emma, ten-year-old Joey, and eleven-year-old Mike. Joey would be rattling off a list of questions: How fast can our airplane fly? What will the ground look like from up there? How high will we be? How many people will be on the airplane? Mike would be pretending he knew all the answers: It's thousands of miles an hour, right, Mom? And we'll definitely be above the clouds. Definitely. And Emma would have Mom's full attention, as usual: Do you remember when you told me that the clouds look like cotton balls up there? In the Raggedy Ann books, the clouds are bouncy, and you can jump from cloud to cloud. Could someone really do that?

Most of the time, Lori's younger brothers and sister drove her crazy. But if they'd come, they'd hide the fact that Chuck and Lori and Mom had nothing to say to one another.

Only, Mom hadn't invited them.

Copyright © 2001 by Margaret Peterson Haddix
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Interesting

    When I first saw this book, I expected it to be boring and nearly impossible to read, but when I actually got it and started to read, it was very interesting! I never thought that I would enjoy it, but I didn't put the book down till I got to the very ending

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    EXCELENT! :)

    This book was very impresive. Personoly i think this book has a message. The book would be Great for all ages. I think this book would be great for people who like air travel, travel and this author. When my son read this book he just loved it and never really let go of it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    Sad

    In the begging nothing cliked or inspired me to read on, but then snap... I could not stop reading this book. but then when it ended I realized that it was over, that quick.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2006

    Two thumbs up!

    ¿I read somewhere that takeoffs and landings are the most dangerous parts¿¿ Margaret Peterson Haddix, author of the bestselling Shadow Children sequence and Double Identity, a suspenseful science fiction thriller, has yet again completed a heartwarming novel called Takeoffs and Landings. As you turn the pages of this wonderful story, you take a peek into what daily life is like for the Lawson children without their father and mother. To these five children, especially the oldest two, life in Pickford County, Ohio, may never be the same. Since the death of their father, the distance between Lori and Chuck has been growing rapidly. For years, they lived as a peaceful, happy family, when suddenly, the loss of their father hit them like a ton of bricks. Lori and Chuck have never experienced life outside Pickford County. On the contrary, their mother found an unanticipated career as a motivational speaker and now travels all across the country. Chuck and Lori are as opposite as opposites could get. Pretty, popular Lori is as graceful as a swan- at least that¿s what everyone sees. The only one who can see through Lori for who she really is, is her mother. Chuck is fat and unpopular, and he knows it. As Haddix puts it, ¿The sun always shines on Lori. She walked on a path of light. Chuck crawled in the darkness, groping his way through the muck.¿ When their mother invites Chuck and Lori to go with her across the country, they soon realize that there is more to this trip than just sightseeing. It is a trip to learn secrets of the past, who their mother really is, and how she reacts to their father¿s death. Not only do they discover who their mom is, but most of all, they discover themselves. ¿How would you draw that- a smile that looks like tears?¿ Margaret Peterson Haddix¿s description of Lori, a self-conscious, realistic teen, and Chuck, an insecure, confused teen are unmatched in quality. From the thoughts that are running through their heads to their actions, Margaret Peterson Haddix makes these characters so alive that you can practically see them. This book is written in three different points of view: Lori¿s Chuck¿s, and their mother¿s. She shows the same event from a different perspective and you see how each character reacts to it. Takeoffs and Landings is a heartwarming, realistic fiction novel recommended for ages eleven and up. When you pick up this eye-catching book, you won¿t be able to unglue your eyes from the rich text. As you read chapter after chapter, Margaret Peterson Haddix explains in great detail the deep meaning of self-confidence, family, and love. This novel is definitely worth spending your money on.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2006

    Another great book from Haddix!

    OK, I wasn't going to read this book. I didn't even know about this book. There was an excerpt from Takeoffs and Landings in the book I was reading. I read the excerpt and I thought to myself, 'Wow, I need to read this book!' I got it and I read it. It was a wonderful book! The plot was so sad and heartbreaking, but in the end the way that everybody changes---it is just amazing. It showed how one simple word, one simple action can be veiwed in so many ways. I loved that. I didn't realize it, but it happens everyday. This is a great read for pre-teens/teens! I loved this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2005

    Takeoffs and Landings was really good

    This book was really good. I liked how it showed the different points of view and also how it showed not to judge a book by its cover. I really liked it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2002

    great!

    This was a good book!I liked how it showed everyone's point of view.Another good book from Margaret Peterson Haddix.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2013

    T & L

    Not very exciting. Dont realy like it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2003

    Takeoffs and Landings

    I thought this was a great book for a teenager to read. If you are in the same situation as chuck and lori it may be a little harder. This book is a quick read for most people.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews

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