In 1944, the small, sleepy town of Pinella, Alabama, is swept by the winds of WW II. Tattnall, almost 12, her neighbor...

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UNDER THE SHADOW OF WINGS

In 1944, the small, sleepy town of Pinella, Alabama, is swept by the winds of WW II. Tattnall, almost 12, her neighbor Bubba, and her developmentally disabled cousin, Obie, are enthralled by the Flying Tigers, the fighter planes they spy overhead. The Flying Tigers are a source of wonder for Tattnall and Obie and signify their imminent maturity. Obie's behavior becomes more erratic, and Tattnall, his protector, no longer believes she can handle him. Readers will empathize with Tattnall's guilt, protective responsibility, and helplessness. Miss Clarissa, Obie's mother, emerges as a three-dimensional character when she finally acknowledges Obie's behavior--but it's too late. Obie has embarked on a path of wrecklessness that leads to a fatal case of pneumonia. Despite lyrical passages and an aching sense of place, the course of the novel wavers, e.g., Miss Clarissa finally admits that Tattnall has been good to Obie, and then a few pages later, chastises her for ""abandoning"" him. The metaphors of flight linked to Obie--Icarus, kites, the Flying Tigers--are invoked so often they lose power. In this quiet but atmospheric entry, the story's strengths are its subtle evocation of wartime Alabama and characters so real they seem to appear on a screen rather than in the pages of a book.

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997