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  • An endearing story of family and forgiveness

    Flying at Night is author Rebecca L. Brown’s debut novel about a family in crisis: a child who has just been placed on the autism spectrum, an overbearing controlling man who was unexpectedly dying but is now unexpectedly living, and a woman who is a wife, a mother and a daughter trying to cope with change, as everything that could go wrong does go wrong. I don’t have an autistic child nor much familiarity with autism at all, other than knowing that autistic kids don't "get it" like others do and defend themselves in ways other kids probably wouldn't. But the author does have an autistic child, and the picture she paints of daily life seems very real and much deeper than “they just don’t get it.” The story is told through three points of view: Fred the autistic child, Lance the hero to the nation but an emotional and verbal abuser to his family, and Piper, the woman who is trying to hold it all together. The three POVs work, especially the contrast between Lance before and after the heart attack. Seeing things through different eyes added depth to the story. Piper has worked hard to create a warm and loving home for her own family that is nothing like the home she grew up in. She is patient and calm and doesn’t seem surprised or very disturbed by Fred’s behavior, to the point of catering to what she wants to believe are just his idiosyncrasies. Her husband Isaac also seems devoted to the family, but equally devoted to his job and is never home. So that leaves Piper running a one-woman show, and things are piling up and spinning out of control. On the surface it seems hard to believe that Piper didn’t already realize Fred is autistic; she worked with autistic children in college and he has been displaying more and more symptoms. But Piper has a very deep need to resist, to stop this from being true. She knows how hard his life is going to be and her heart breaks over it and she will not allow it. While life with Fred can often be frustrating and sometimes sad, it also seems very rewarding. Some of what he says is unintentionally funny, and he goes right to the heart of an issue, discarding what isn’t relevant or important. Piper’s feelings about her father seem as strong as those about Fred, but in the other direction. Her childhood was horrible, so horrible that her brother said his goodbyes and considers it done, and her mother was so relieved when she thought Lance was going to die that she cannot put herself back into a life that includes him, even if the nursing home she has placed him in is inadequate. I think it even surprises Piper when she begins to take care of her father. She wanted him to die as much as her mother and brother did, even to the point of considering smothering him, but in the end, she cannot turn away. Flying at Night is a captivating story. While not always easy to understand or very likeable, all of the characters are endearing in one way or another, and you can feel Piper’s emotions and her desire to do what is right for everyone. I received a copy of Flying at Night from Berkley Publishing and definitely recommend it.

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  • Emotionally pulling

    Fly at Night was emotionally pulling. I felt for Piper, I disliked her mother, I wanted to give her husband a guiding hand, and I wanted to hug her son. Piper was overwhelmed. Her mother was selfish, although with the abusive lifestyle she lived in she was due to be selfish. Her husband just needs someone to show him what to do, he wants to help but doesn’t quite know what to do. Curtis, her son, has autism and lives a full life with just some idiosyncrasies that make him sometimes hard to understand. I felt for Piper. She is a stay at home mom with so much on her plate and she doesn’t ask for help. Piper has an autistic son, a father who is now mentally challenged after having a heart attack, and a husband who seems to want to help but doesn’t know what to do. Add to that a mother who walked away and left her to deal with everything. I am not sure how much more she could handle without crumbling. This book was interesting, I enjoyed it. Yet, it felt like I was reading a story. I know I was but I like to fall into my books, become attached to the characters, and become invested in the plot. With Fly at Night I wasn’t as invested in the story. I enjoyed it, I wanted to know what happens, and I am glad that I took the time to read it.

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