The Secrets of Flight: A Novel

The Secrets of Flight: A Novel

by Maggie Leffler


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The Secrets of Flight: A Novel by Maggie Leffler

This captivating, breakout novel—told in alternating viewpoints—brings readers from the skies of World War II to the present day, where a woman is prepared to tell her secrets at last.

Estranged from her family since just after World War II, Mary Browning has spent her entire adult life hiding from her past. Now eighty-seven years old and a widow, she is still haunted by secrets and fading memories of the family she left behind. Her one outlet is the writing group she’s presided over for a decade, though she’s never written a word herself. When a new member walks in—a fifteen-year-old girl who reminds her so much of her beloved sister Sarah—Mary is certain fate delivered Elyse Strickler to her for a reason.

Mary hires the serious-eyed teenager to type her story about a daring female pilot who, during World War II, left home for the sky and gambled everything for her dreams—including her own identity.

As they begin to unravel the web of Mary’s past, Mary and Elyse form an unlikely friendship. Together they discover it’s never too late for second chances and that sometimes forgiveness is all it takes for life to take flight in the most unexpected ways.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062427922
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/03/2016
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 783,988
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Maggie Leffler is an American novelist and a family medicine physician. A native of Columbia, Maryland, she graduated from the University of Delaware and volunteered with AmeriCorps before attending St. George’s University School of Medicine. She practices medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and sons. The Secrets of Flight is her third novel.

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The Secrets of Flight: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Two stories are woven together in such a great way - through the writing of a memoir. Mary Browning is in her later years and has been a member of a writing group filled with other folks around her age and in walks a teenager who will help Mary discover some truths. Elyse is the teenager that enters her world and she has some dramas of her own - her parents are separating after a battle with cancer and her grandmother is in ailing health, so Mary will be able to help Elyse just as much as she is helping her. I am not sure if I would say if this is extremely dual narrative - but it felt like it and I liked it. I liked how Mary's story told through short stories also fit into the bigger story of having Elyse help her write her memoir it made the book feel natural and the two storylines weren't forced together.
MeezCarrie More than 1 year ago
The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler is rich with characters and history and family and life. It addresses the importance of faith in our formation while spotlighting a host of courageous women from the past as well as the present. The narrative alternates between the perspectives of the two main characters – Mary/Miriam and Elyse. Together, they may make an unlikely pair but a delightful one nonetheless. I would enjoy knowing both of them – as well as their rather eccentric writing club! As far as this dual first-person perspective, it flows quite well. It took a bit, early on, for me to figure out which voice was narrating at any given time – until orienting facts were given – but as the story progressed and I became acquainted with their distinctive voices I had no more problems telling them apart. The historical vignettes were fascinating – a glimpse into life as not only a Jew in America during WW2 (discrimination wasn’t only going on in Germany) but also life as a woman in America during WW2. Engaging from word one, Maggie Leffler’s latest novel is a mix of not only historical and contemporary but a mix of heartwarming and heartwrenching as well. You will laugh and cry and sink into this story as it envelops you like a warm blanket. Yet, it’s not a sunshine and roses type of story. There is family drama. There is medical drama. There is historical drama. Life isn’t always pretty, and it certainly wasn’t pretty during the era of World War 2 America. While Leffler shines a light on some less than stellar moments, she also spotlights courage and love, as well as faith and hope that endure despite insurmountable odds. (I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
BOOKSOMEREADS More than 1 year ago
A story of love and loss, regret and hope. The secrets of Flight is a real gem. It is a wonderful story told between alternating viewpoints and also between the past and the present. I love historical fiction, so I really enjoyed reading this. It's not too heavy as it alternates between Mary's story in the present, as well as Elyse's, so even if you're not a fan of historical fiction, you might still enjoy this. I simply couldn't put it down and I would have probably read it in one sitting if I hadn't started this book so late in the day. The storyline and plot twists kept me intrigued. It's a great reminder of the difficult decisions and sacrifices we're all capable of making for our families and for the people we love and care about, and of the shame and regret one has to carry throughout life when mistakes are made and promises are broken, as well as the importance of acceptance and forgiveness. The dialogues and character interactions, as well as the realism of the plot, and the way the story is written has me in awe of the author's writing. I found myself invested in Mary and Elyse right from the very start. The author has a way of making her characters; even the ones who only make one or two appearances, matter to you. She is just so good at developing her characters and making you care about them and about what happens to them in each and every chapter that I found myself hooked! Mary's story and Elyse's story are equally interesting. They're both strong and brave and funny. It was a joy to witness their growing friendship and I really wanted to know more about them. I certainly felt a number of emotions reading this book. I laughed, I cried, I even grinned like an idiot at times. I admit I was both happy and sad when I was done reading this because I didn't want their stories to end. It was definitely an emotional ride. I highly recommend reading this book. Memorable Quote "What is it about being on the precipice of change that makes one capable of joy and fear simultaneously?" "The truth is, none of us wants to think about things we can't change. If I worry that maybe I'm next, I'm already done for, so instead I wake up each day and tell myself there's a reason I'm here." RATING Characters - ★★★★★ Setting - ★★★★★ Writing - ★★★★★ Plot - ★★★★★ Overall - ★★★★★ ________________________ Received an ARC of this in e-book format in exchange for an honest review. ________________________ Review posted at
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
In The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler, Mary Browning is an 87 year-old widow who runs a writing group for senior citizens at her local library. One day, a fifteen year-old young lady named Elyse joins the group after seeing an ad in the newspaper. Elyse is unaware that it is a senior citizens group, but the members were more than happy to welcome the youngster to their group. Mary and Elyse become friends, and Mary hires Elyse to type up her memoirs for her. Mary has many secrets from the group, from her real name (Miri Lichtenstein) to her former occupation. The group believes that Mary was a book editor in New York City, but in actuality Mary had belonged to the Women's Airforce Service Pilots during WWII, a group of civilian pilots who were trained by the military. The book us told in two different voices- Mary's and Elyse's- and in two different time periods. I found Miri's story of her time training as a pilot, and her camaraderie with her female pilots to be the more interesting of the two stories. One of the more interesting anecdotes (which according to the author's notes at the end of the book really happened) involved landing in bad weather. The ladies had to land their planes in a remote area. They found a restaurant in this small town, and of course these strange women, unaccompanied by any men, drew interest from the regulars. A man came to their table and said that they were trying to guess who these ladies were. The women had been told not to tell anyone who they were, so when the man guessed that they were a baseball team, the ladies readily agreed. (Just like A League of Their Own!) One of the sadder tales involved a pilot who crashed her plane and perished. The women had to take up a collection to send her body back to the woman's parents. As they were not officially in the armed services, the government would not cover the cost. That made me so sad and angry. Another aspect of the story that intrigued me concerned the idea of Jewish people hiding their identity. Miri's boyfriend wanted to study medicine, but he had a difficult time getting into medical school because at that time, there was a strict quota for Jewish men in medical school. I had never heard of that, and found it so shocking that in the United States in the 1940's this blatant discrimination existed. He had to decide whether to hide his identity to achieve his goal, when his relatives had to hide their identity in Europe to avoid being sent to concentration camps. The strain that this decision caused himself and his family was enlightening. (And I have never seen so many people just cut themselves off from family members as in this book.) Mary had many secrets that she kept from those around her, and when we slowly discover them, it becomes easier to see why Mary was so lonely. The Secrets of Flight will appeal to fans of The Orphan Train. Both of the books feature an older woman whose earlier life held a fascination for the teenage girl they befriend. Both books tell of two women of different ages and experiences and how they changed each other. There is a twist of fate at the end of the story that is hinted at at the beginning. I personally found it to be a little too coincidental, but it does bring the story full circle. I recommend The Secrets of Flight to anyone who enjoys a story about strong women, and who find the time period of WWII interesting. I loved learning about the women flyers.