When She Flew

( 7 )

Overview

A new novel about faith, family, and finding the courage to do the right thing from the author of Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe.

Police officer Jessica Villareal has always played by the book and tried to do the right thing. But now, she finds herself approaching midlife divorced, estranged from her daughter, alone, and unhappy. And she?s wondering if she ever made a right choice in her life.

But then Jess discovers a girl and ...

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When She Flew

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Overview

A new novel about faith, family, and finding the courage to do the right thing from the author of Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe.

Police officer Jessica Villareal has always played by the book and tried to do the right thing. But now, she finds herself approaching midlife divorced, estranged from her daughter, alone, and unhappy. And she’s wondering if she ever made a right choice in her life.

But then Jess discovers a girl and her father living off the radar in the Oregon woods, avoiding the comforts—and curses—of modern life. Her colleagues on the force are determined to uproot and separate them, but Jess knows the damage of losing those you love. She recognizes her chance to make a difference by doing something she’s never dared. Because even though she’s used to playing by the rules, there are times when they need to be broken…

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this predictable but good-hearted novel, a father and his daughter—a damaged but loving Iraq War vet named Ray and a budding 12-year-old naturalist named Lindy—live happily off the grid in an Oregon forest until the day Lindy is spotted by a bird-watcher. Notified of a young girl wandering alone deep in the woods, the police assign dedicated officer Jessica Villareal to the case. Recently rejected by her own daughter and still smarting, Jessica sets out with the best of intentions for helping Lindy, but risks destroying the life Lindy and her father have built for themselves. Examining people willing to sidestep the rules in pursuit of a greater good, Shortridge's fourth novel (after Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe) recalls Barbara Kingsolver's Pigs in Heaven; Shortridge even manages to finesse authentic performances from her population of familiar types: a pitiable war veteran, a conflicted cop and a poor but precocious youngster. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451227980
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/3/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 322
  • Sales rank: 608,292
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennie Shortridge lives in Seattle, WA with her husband, and juggles her time between writing novels and working in the community to foster literacy.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 23, 2011

    A Talisman for our Times

    Recently I finished a book--When She Flew--by Jennie Shortridge that should be on everyone's must-read list. This richly woven tapestry explores the human condition through the eyes of a 13 year old girl suddenly snatched from her home--albeit it an unconventional one--and a female cop pushing 40 looking back at a life of lost opportunities and regrets. A cop who tried so hard to protect her own now-estranged daughter that she forgot she sometimes just needed to be mom.

    At the unlikely intersection of these lives a haunted war veteran struggles to maintain his own grip on normality while providing a life for his daughter. A handful of cops each weigh their legal obligations with what their hearts and experience tell them is the right thing to do, and a compassionate intercessor makes the unthinkable a possibility.

    This is a sensitive and revealing portrait of how we treat our veterans--no just of wars on distant shores--but also in our neighborhoods and streets. But it is also a searing assessment of how impersonal bureaucracies and an ever increasing sensation-driven media grind up real lives in their unfeeling machinery.


    When She Flew is a talisman for our times and deserves a space in our consciousness reserved for books that so poignantly define an era that they forever change hearts and minds. So long as books are read, this one ought to live among the giants.

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    When She Flew is a gem of a little book. This story gently unfolds into a beautiful thing.

    This is one of those stories that flows effortlessly. From the moment I picked it up, I knew it was going to be one of those books. As I was reading about Jessica and her relationship with her own daughter, I was struck with how realistically her life was drawn. The life of a cop, a female cop no less.the need to maintain a game face at all times, the pressure to hold it all together, it all rings true. Women struggle to be everything, to everyone and sometimes fail in the process. Jess isn't perfect, and we see her flaws but she is an easy character to relate to. I appreciated the fact that Jess was strong, but flawed. It made her more human.

    As she deals with Ray and Lindy, the 'forest people' trying desperately to make a life of their own on what little they have, we see what happens when oil and water meet. Jess has ideas of what a good parent is and she berates herself daily, over the mistakes she has made with her own daughter. However, when she sees the fierce love that Ray has for Lindy, she begins to realize that there may be more than one way to be a good parent. That providing the basics such as food and shelter is just a part of what being a parent is.

    The story is told with alternating points of view, one of which being Lindy's. Lindy is a delicate bird. At the age of thirteen, she is becoming a young lady and has learned to appreciate all she has. Taken from an abusive mother, her father sheltered her from society, yet raised her to be self-sufficient, to live off the land. She is educated and wiser than her years but she is anything but fragile. Like a bird, she is ready to take flight but possesses a sensibility that most young girls do not possess at this age.

    Ray, Lindy's father, is an Iraq war vet battling post-traumatic stress. He lives on a very small income and creates a sanctuary for Lindy out in the middle of the forest. Shortridge takes great care with Ray. As a reader, you cannot judge Ray. He's troubled but makes the best decisions he can for the sake of his daughter. I was touched by his tenderness.

    While I was reading the book, there was a small part of me expecting a very pat ending. I am happy to report that this is not the case. Shortridge crafts a beautiful story with well-developed characters. When I finished reading it, I felt the weight of it, and lingered in its warmth for a bit.

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  • Posted December 20, 2009

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    Rules That Can't Heal!

    "You have choices," are the thoughtful words that deepen an already unfathomable rift between mother and daughter. Is anyone responsible for all the wrong words said? How to revive the joy of mother and daughter in infancy and childhood? Jessie Villareal feels like a failure of a mother but confident in her skills as a police officer. She follows all the rules, as her father, also a police officer, did and would have had he not died early on in her life. But losing the one you love can become both one's biggest enemy or blessing!

    Two hikers run into a little girl wearing a fancy dress over her regular clothing. When they call out to her, she flees as if a killer were after her, and the campers find something in the woods that makes them believe this little girl is in terrible danger. From that moment on, the adventure becomes fast and even chaotic as the search for the girl begins, and no one is capable of imagining how they will handle what they are about to find. Pater, an Iraqi veteran, and Lindy are ready with a carefully made plan.

    A course of riveting events follows in which the essence of every person involved shows the true colors depicted as a struggle for power, prestige, stereotyping, misunderstanding, protection, honesty and deep love willing to sacrifice it all. The process and outcome forces the reader to re-examine his or her ideas about separation and bonding, as well as offering a more positive point of view of a media more frequently maligned than praised.

    Yes, the wilderness does bring one back to one's roots, paring away the skin of modernity that just might be more of a curse than one normally realizes.

    Jennie Shortridge is a talented author whose ability to combine reality and idealism is superbly presented in this fascinating novel!

    Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on December 20, 2009

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    Posted October 14, 2011

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    Posted February 26, 2010

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    Posted November 17, 2009

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    Posted March 6, 2010

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