When She Flew — A Book Club Suggestion

When She Flew by Jennie Shortridge is a small book that carries a big punch. It’s perfect for book clubs that are looking for something different to read — something all the other books clubs haven’t read before. A side note to this story is that it is loosely based on a true event that took place in the Pacific Northwest in the early 90s after a Vietnam War veteran was found living in the woods with his daughter.

When birdwatchers report an unaccompanied girl running through the Oregon woods, members of the local police department are dispatched to track the girl down. They find that 13 year old Lindy and her father, Ray, a veteran of the First Iraqi War and PTSD victim have taken up residence in the forest.

Ray and Lindy’s lives begin to unravel after their lean-to shelter is discovered and it becomes evident that Lindy has not been attending school. But, it is clear that Ray and his daughter share a great bond and he has done much to educate her, taking her into ‘town’ weekly to the library and enhancing her education with encyclopedias and good literature. He also teaches her survival skills and a great appreciation for the woods and the flora and fauna that live along side them.

Officer Jess Villareal, estranged from her own daughter and grandson, is assigned to bring the father and daughter back to civilization. Weighing her options, she defies her orders causing a multitude of problems for Lindy, Ray and herself. Lindy’s loyalty, protectiveness and love for her father may remind readers of the wonderful young Dicey in the Children and Young Adult fiction series that began with the book Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. Lindy displays the same strength and maturity that Dicey possessed. The other characters are genuine, likable but realistically flawed. Questions about parental and legal rights, unexpected consequences, mental illness and poverty make this a great book with much to discuss.

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