"I imagine wing-walking and reading An Impossible Distance to Fall feel a great deal the same: heart-stopping, thrill-seeking and addictive. I couldn't stop turning the pages, plummeting into Birdie's story of her search for her father, her growing awareness and attraction to June, and her ever-twisting relationships with her newfound family. Birdie's a quintessentially lovable heroine: flawed, impulsive, kind-hearted, and optimistic even when all the odds are against her. A book to be re-read over, and over, and over again." —Katherine Locke, award-winning author of The Girl with the Red Balloon
Praise for The Unbinding of Mary Reade
“The Unbinding of Mary Reade is a rollicking, breathtaking adventure full of heart, passion, wit, and intelligence. I was turning pages fast as a wind fills a sail, marveling at the talent that is Miriam McNamara.” —An Na, Printz Award Winner and National Book Award Finalist for A Step from Heaven
"The sexy, high-seas swashbuckler we've been waiting for." —Rita Williams-Garcia, winner of the 2011 Newbery Honor Award, Coretta Scott King Award, Scott O'Dell Award, and the PEN/Norma Klein Award, and the author of One Crazy Summer
“A captivating account of gender, feminism, agency, and all manner of desire—most importantly, the desire to be free. Badass, through and through.” —M-E Girard, Lambda Literary Award Winner and William C. Morris Award Finalist for Girl Mans Up
“Issues of gender identity and who and how to love make The Unbinding of Mary Reade resonate as strongly in the present as in the past. Action-packed, this romantic tale is bound to entice teen and adult readers alike.” —Cordelia Jensen, author of Skyscraping and The Way the Light Bends
"The Unbinding of Mary Reade is a stunning debut—intense and unforgettable, thrilling to the very last page!" —Melanie Crowder, author of Audacity and An Uninterrupted View of the Sky
"I dare you not to yell huzzah! at least ten times while reading The Unbinding of Mary Reade, a swashbuckling girl-power adventure about owning who you are and loving who you want. Mary is an unforgettable heroine who is tough yet tender, a survivor who's got swagger and courage. I'd join her pirate crew any day!" —Heather Demetrios, author of Bad Romance and Exquisite Captive
"This is the pirate novel we’ve been waiting for. Epic and confident, with a plot that sizzles and then ignites like a powder keg. Longing and love tangle in nuanced, powerful combinations as Mary takes to the high seas and meets her match in Anne Bonny. An unstoppable romance, an unforgettable adventure." —Amy Rose Capetta, author of Echo after Echo
“Fantastic, unique, and inclusively diverse young adult fiction . . . You had me at ‘queer pirates.’ *grabby hands*” —Tor.com
“Canonically queer pirate girls? Yes, please.” —Barnes & Noble Teen Blog
"In her debut novel, McNamara creates a compelling backstory for legendary female pirate Anne Bonney, as well as folding accurate historical details into a plot about how and why youth took to sea in 18th-century England, the physical and social hazards of social class clashes on land and at sea, and the gender politics that, then too, made the simple fact of being female constantly dangerous. . . . Delightful reading for anyone who enjoys pirate stories or is seeking LGBTQ+ fiction that is positive as well as fairly realistic. VERDICT: A great choice for historical fiction collections." —School Library Journal
"The connections to issues today will inspire readers to think beyond the adventure and root for a happy ending. An auspicious first novel." —Booklist
McNamara (The Unbinding of Mary Reade, 2018) returns with a thrilling coming-of-age story featuring queer girls challenging societal conventions.
Sixteen-year-old Birdie Williams, a talented dancer, led a charmed life on Long Island until her father's bank collapsed and he vanished with his beloved biplane. As the Great Depression continues, both Birdie's would-be fiance, David, and her gorgeous best friend, Izzy, are distant, and her mother is forced to seek financial support from family in England. After spotting Dad's plane on a flier for an aerial circus, Birdie leaves what's left of her old life behind in hopes of reuniting with him and throws herself into performing as a wing walker to earn her keep. Yet what she comes to learn about Dad, and about herself, as she travels with the air circus is more complex than she expects. The third-person limited narrative alternates between Birdie's past and present, effectively mapping out her internal growth over the course of the novel as she confronts her privileged upbringing and its concomitant blind spots—as well as her suppressed romantic feelings for Izzy and for June, a young pilot. Birdie and most other characters are assumed white aside from two male members of the air circus: dark-skinned Bennie from New Orleans and Milosh, who is Roma.
A thrilling, romantic adventure that captures the emotional tenor of an unstable period in American history. (Historical fiction. 12-18)