A young paraglider finds his inner strength high above a blazing inferno.
Licensed-paragliding pilot Lane puts his firsthand knowledge of the aerial sport to good use in this brief but thrilling adventure novel for young adults. The book centers on 17-year-old Josh, a shy student struggling with burgeoning adulthood. He competes with a new stepmother, a wicked stepbrother and a spirited stepsister for the affections of his well-meaning father, Peter, who mentors his son in his paragliding hobby. Peter also firmly scolds Josh for neglecting vital equipment, like his helmet and the strap for his indispensable glasses, a hint of challenges to come. A couple of botched routine flights put Josh on edge, testing his mettle and bracing him for what comes next. Peter asks him to bring an errant glider back to an instructor’s house in the San Bernardino Mountains when a forest fire engulfs the location. Josh is close to panic when he remembers his father’s advice: â€œWork the problem. Don’t let the problem work you.” In a literal leap of faith, Josh takes to the air, negotiating smoky skies and violent updrafts in a series of precarious takeoffs and landings. His parents’ simultaneous rescue efforts are superfluous, but the flight sequences above the raging forest fire are both plausible and bracing. Josh even gets to play hero, saving a distressed 8-year-old camper by taking her on a risky tandem flight. In the end, he delivers her safely, despite the loss of his helmet, glasses and even the glider itself, sunk in a shallow lake. The story is squarely aimed at adolescents, the writing undemanding and straightforward, but Lane delivers an earnest drama worthy of an after-school special.
A rousing, unusual story about a boy who takes to the air but lands squarely on his own two feet.