The Girl Who Could Fly, published by Square Fish/Macmillan in Feb. 2011
Author: Victoria Forester
The Girl Who Could Fly is a good book, but it doesn't make me happy to say that. Some books only aim for good, and if they attain that, everyone is happy. I wanted to love this book, and it had the potential, but it fell short over and over. Lots of kids will read and like this book, but the words that kept running through my head were those of Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront:
I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.The back cover says, Piper McCloud lives with her very normal ma and pa on a very normal farm in normal Lowland County. But Piper isn't your normal girl. Piper isn't normal because she is able to float off the ground, and eventually to fly around whenever she is able to clear her mind and think only of the sky. The problem is, her parents don't want her to be different. They hide it as long as they can, but when people in the town discover her odd ability, there is a media uproar followed by the arrival of the aptly named Dr. Letitia Hellion.
Piper is taken away to a special school called I.N.S.A.N.E. (Institute of Normalcy, Stability, and NonExceptionality), where everyone else has special abilities, but nobody is allowed to use them. Her struggle to first accept her own ability, and then to free herself and the others from the evil Dr. Hellion, make for an exciting and fun plot.
I have trouble pinpointing any one spot where The Girl Who Could Fly goes off track, because there are a number of mistakes that a good editor should have caught. Piper's use of idioms could be a lot of fun, but it is overdone and distracting. There is a critical character introduced early on, mentioned again near the end, and then completely ignored, probably stripped out crudely to play a role in a sequel. The villain is given a human side, but at just the wrong time, and then dealt with too easily. The children are too gullible at first, and too easily convinced later.
Again, none of these make the book bad. It is a fun, light read. But it coulda been a contender. It could have been The Mysterious Benedict Society-good. With some very careful editing and rewriting, it might even have been From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler-good. It has that potential, but it falls short... far short.
I recommend this for readers who like a good, light read and have finished all the other good books they can find.
Three out of five stars.
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