Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: MTV Books
Summary: When I was fourteen, I made a decision. If I was doomed to live in a trailer park next to an airport, I could complain about the smell of the jet fuel like my mom, I could drink myself to death over the noise like everybody else, or I could learn to fly.
Heaven Beach, South Carolina, is anything but, if you live at the low-rent end of town. All her life, Leah Jones has been the grown-up in her family, while her mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, letting any available money slip out of her hands. At school, they may diss Leah as trash, but she’s the one who negotiates with the landlord when the rent’s not paid. At fourteen, she’s the one who gets a job at the nearby airstrip.
But there’s one way Leah can escape reality. Saving every penny she can, she begs quiet Mr. Hall, who runs an aerial banner-advertising business at the airstrip and also offers flight lessons, to take her up just once. Leaving the trailer park far beneath her and swooping out over the sea is a rush greater than anything she’s ever experienced, and when Mr. Hall offers to give her cut-rate flight lessons, she feels ready to touch the sky.
By the time she’s a high school senior, Leah has become a good enough pilot that Mr. Hall offers her a job flying a banner plane. It seems like a dream come true . . . but turns out to be just as fleeting as any dream. Mr. Hall dies suddenly, leaving everything he owned in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. And they’re determined to keep the banner planes flying.
Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business—until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.
My Favorite Lines:
“On a sigh he brought up his hand and used one long finger to brush a dark curl away from my face. With the saddest look in his eyes, he said, "A girl needs to be held right now, and comforted, and told that everything is going to be okay. I'm sorry I can't do that for you. I don't have any of that left.""I have a little," I said, "and I'll lend it to you.”“I had wanted something from him. Even expected a confrontation. To be ignored was a sentence without a period.”
“Most people hear an airplane in the sky and think, ‘There’s an airplane,’ and go back to what they were doing. A few folks look around for the airplane, try to figure out what kind of plane it is, and watch it from the time they spot it to the time it disappears on the horizon, maybe after that. Those kids are the ones who will be pilots." He pointed at me. "I knew that about you. I’ve just been waiting for you to show up.”
Why I Loved It: Ok confession time. This is my first Jennifer Echols book, *GASP* but there needs to be an understanding that I didn't really get into YA until about two years ago. I had read in middle school, but it wasn't until the end of high school that I redeveloped a love. Even then it wasn't until a few semesters into college that I got super serious about it. So please, my dear readers, please forgive me. Anyways, I can say that I understand what the hype was all about. I'm surprised the book stayed in my hands... I thought it was going to take me away.
Leah is what she considers "trailer park trash" and her mother is the epitome of "bad mom" and there is no present father. Despite her circumstances, or maybe because of, Leah decides that she wants to learn to fly. All of their trailer parks in the many moves have been right next to the airport. Leah finds a love in flying that many of us will never experience. Mr. Hall, owner of Hall Aviation, agrees to start giving her flying lessons. Eventually, she kind of becomes the daughter he never had. He helps her get her commercial pilot license *which is really a big deal* and he is on his way to help her reach the next level. Sadly, he passes away. His son, the always-into-trouble Grayson, comes home to agree to run the business with the help of his twin brother Alec. Sadly, their problems are great and Leah is dragged into them. Flying is all she's ever wanted to do, but the twins might just take that away too.
Anyways, that might be an extreme summary, but I'd say it's pretty accurate. So let's start with Leah. The girl is super tough on the outside, but her life has had a huge impact on her. If I was her, I'd probably be a bit bitter too. Still, with Mr. Hall's reigning influence over her life, Leah is a person full of strong character. He kept her from making some very stupid mistakes because he gave her something to live for. I really admired that man, and in turn Leah for sticking with it. She had a passion that I rarely see among teens. That passion made her very likable. Her best friend Molly was a riot. She was always into something too.
Ok so the boys. The Hall twins. Smokey the Bear needs to keep his eyes out for these two. SMOKING!!! Alec was a total sweetheart and a "pretty" boy. Grayson pretty much forces Leah to "date" his twin. That part of the book is definitely interesting, if not incredibly frustrating. Why frustrating?? Because Grayson and Leah are definitely into each other. The tension when they were around each other? Yeah it lead to some things. That's why I would recommend this book to older girls. I wouldn't leave it with my middle schoolers. Also Grayson tended to run hot and cold. One minute he was being a total sweetheart and taking care of Leah when she obviously couldn't do it. The other, he was being a class-a jerk. Talk about wanting to hit yourself in the head with the book....
My absolute favorite part of the book? The airplanes. I have the secret dream of taking flying lessons. Ms. Echols really did her research. She used a lot of plane jargon in an "even an idiot could understand this" type of way. I learned a lot, and I seriously wanted to go out and fly. I had to remind myself that I really knew nothing about flying a plane. But the time in the air in the book was probably my favorite part. I loved the idea of flying.
High Points: FLYING! Ok that's my number one. Grayson and Alec's gorgeous selves. Leah and Mr. Hall's father/daughter relationship that was full of mutual respect. I really loved how much Leah learns about life through her experience flying. The exploration into what really makes family? Blood? Or just taking the time and having that family love for someone. It was interesting.
Low Points: Ok, so this is one thing that really bothers me about YA lit. Sex is a big deal. It's a major life decision. Those should never be made without taking the time to really consider it and know your stuff. It should never be made in the heat of a moment. Studies prove that sex has a huge impact on girl's emotional state. It should be THOUGHT THROUGH. And it should be based on more than a feeling. Anyways, more than anything girls need to know the difference between truth and urban myth when it comes to sex. There is a part of the book where things are all heated and Grayson starts searching through his wallet for a condom. I should say this, condoms that have been carried around in wallets for a long time are completely unreliable. They get worn out and are very likely to break. I hate when books make sex into a juvenile decision that is not necessary and continues to contribute to ignorance among teens.
Who Should Read It: Fans of contemporary, of course you will love this. For those of you who were also behind and haven't read this book, if you have loved any of Jennifer Echols books before, you'll probably love this one. My Life Next Door, Jennifer Brown and Sarah Dessen fans, I think if you haven't read it, you should.
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