NIGHT FLYING by Rita Murphy
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 10 - 14
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The Hansen women have a secret: generations of them have had the power to fly. It is both a gift and a burden, for there is a dark side to this magical ability. For reasons of self-preservationn, long-held rules and taboos, which are enforced by a cold, unbending Grandmother, control this ability. In adherence to family tradition, 16-year-old Georgia will be initiated in a ceremony for her first solo flight. But the strictly regulated family dynamic is interrupted by the appearance of Georgia’s dangerous, rule-breaking Aunt Carmen the week before the initiation. Carmen has secrets of her own that upset the equilibrium, set her sisters free of their domineering mother, and cause Georgia not only to know the secret of her own birth but also to make her first solo flight independently and in the daylight—which is strictly forbidden. In this unusual coming-of-age story, Georgia negotiates the universal tension between safety, offered by Grandmother’s control, and freedom and independence, offered by Carmen. She also faces the added complexity of whether to tell the truth about her solo and face banishment or to lie and surrender control of her own life. This first novel (winner of the Delacorte Prize) is metaphorical in every way, yet the oft-used symbol of flight is given an original emphasis. The writing is full of apt and innovative images (e.g., Beulah the old Volvo wagon that is like a Southern woman, “She just has weight and composure”). The beauty and the danger of flight are skillfully imagined. While some readers may reprove the almost misandristic absence of men, for readers who suspend disbelief, the richly developed, seclusive fantasy world of the Hansen women with its own history, rituals, and mores will fascinate, and the conclusion, with the promise of Georgia’s safe landing, will satisfy. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-385-32748-X
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2000


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