Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: Flying at Night

Flying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown

Publication Date: 04/10/2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Berkley Books
Genre: Women's Fiction
Pages: 336

(Received for an honest review from Berkley via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Rebecca L. Brown on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from Flying at Night, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature


An emotionally charged debut novel of a family on the brink--an autistic child, his determined mother, and her distant father--who learn that when your world changes, you find out who you really are. . . .

While she was growing up, Piper's father, Lance "the Silver Eagle" Whitman, became a national hero piloting a plane through an emergency landing. But at home, he was a controlling and overbearing presence in her life, raining emotional and verbal abuse upon the entire family.

It's no surprise, then, that as an adult, Piper has poured all of her energy into creating a warm and loving home for her own family, while catering to her son Fred's ever-growing idiosyncrasies.

Then Lance has a heart attack, leaving him with a brain injury--and dependent upon Piper for his care--just before tests confirm Piper's suspicions that Fred is on the autism spectrum.

A powerful and extraordinary novel, Flying at Night gives voice to Fred, trying to find his place in a world that doesn't quite understand him; to Lance, who's lost what made him the man he was, for better and worse; and to Piper, who, while desperately trying to navigate the shifting landscape around her, watches as her son and father start to connect--in the most miraculous ways. . . .


Flying at Night is the debut novel by Rebecca L. Brown. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful story of an autistic boy, his mother and an unlikely companion. Brown will take readers into the everyday life of a mother on the edge. Faced with a difficult diagnosis and an ailing father, Piper is anything but calm. This book is about change, resilience, and redemption. Readers who are looking for a poignant tale that will pull at the heartstrings and remind them the family dynamic can change in an instant, will find this one authentic and real. 

What I liked:

This was an incredibly emotional book. I have a nephew that falls on the autistic spectrum and I was wondering if this book would be able to capture the innocence and sense of wonder that most autistic children possess. When I found out that the author, Rebecca L. Brown has an autistic child of her own it was easy to see that this was more than research. This was real life experience. Fred was such an amazing character. He is so focused and so inquisitive. I loved his sense of wonder and his ability to see right to the heart of things, including his brain damaged grandfather. I thought Brown did a very good job of showing the reader that life with an autistic child is obviously challenging but it also extremely rewarding. 

She is also able to describe Piper's struggles, with such clarity and understanding. Piper spends a great deal of time with her son Fred but she still doesn't see the signs that he is different than most kids. I really felt for her as a parent, because we always want our children to be okay in every sense of the word. I understood the incredible guilt she must have felt when Fred was diagnosed. She is a character that can possibly rub some readers the wrong way, because she has so much emotional baggage, but in the end is also very understandable. 

Who wouldn't be angry, resentful and even a little disappointed when faced with so much chaos in her life. Her son is on the autism spectrum, her father is brain damaged due to a severe heart attack, her mother just up and leaves and husband is constantly gone due to work concerns. That's not an easy place to be in and Brown does a wonderful job of showing the reader a flawed, yet relatable character in Piper. 

Brown not only gives readers a chance to see into everyday life with this family, but she also shows them in the throws of change. Each situation seems to be fraught with more turmoil than the last. But the beautiful relationship that begins to emerge between Lance the ailing grandfather and Fred is everything. Lance is not the same man he was before and it makes all the difference. With the innocence of a child he relates to Fred in a way no other character really can. And in seeing his change, Piper is able to find some redemption in him for his past as an emotionally abusive parent. 

What I didn't like:

I had my issues with Piper. Some of the things she said and did were not the ways in which I think I would have responded, but I'm not in her shoes. As a parent I want to think I would take things in stride and make the best life for both my child and my father, but honestly we don't know how we would react to such devastating news and circumstances. 

I kind of understood Piper's mom running off. I understood her brothers lack of concern. But I still felt a bit of real disconnect from the characters. Even when you have an emotionally abusive parent, they are still your parent. I was glad that despite Piper's previous relationship with her father she was still able to see that he needed her. She was still able to see him as her father, where I felt like the rest of the family just wrote him off in his time of need. 

Disclaimer, there is a bit of rough language in this one, but it's nothing that most people can't relate to. Sometimes gosh darn it, just doesn't cover it. But it may be offensive to some. Just keep it in mind. 

Bottom Line:

I liked this book. I thought that Brown gave a very realistic point of view to all three of the characters who shared the point of views in this book. I loved Fred. I loved hearing his thoughts and seeing his process. He was a great character and very authentic. Piper was a bit harder for me to like, but I was able to relate to her struggles. The old Lance and the new Lance were so different. It was amazing to see the amount of change in this character. It's kind of sad that brain damage had to happen to turn him into a pretty good guy. This one is emotional folks, be prepared, but it's well worth your time.

Flying at Night is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag. 

About the Author:

Rebecca L. Brown lives with her husband and three sons. Flying at Night is her first novel, and she is currently at work on her next one.

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