The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of When She Flew, by Jennie Shortridge

This most recent Jennie Shortridge novel is her darkest and, I think, her best. I feel like I have to disclose that she had the book sent to me after I’d reviewed a couple of her other novels. But we both understood that a freebie was not going to require a positive review. I’m too much of a contrarian for that. So really? I just liked this book a lot.

For the most part, this is the story of Jess and Lindy, and Lindy’s father, Ray. Motherless Lindy, a bright and sweet-natured 12-year-old, is living off the grid with Ray, a traumatized Iraq veteran. Specifically, they’ve created a home for themselves in a public forest. Ray sees to Lindy’s education, and her portion of the narrative shows that she is happy, though there are hints of the rebellion that is likely to occur when she becomes a teenager.

Policewoman Jess knows all about that rebellion — her daughter, Nina, hasn’t stopped rebelling, even though she’s now in her 20s and has a child of her own. In the rare moments she allows herself to think about their estrangement, Jess is in agony. So she immerses herself in her job. When Lindy and Ray are discovered, Jess is drawn into their situation and finds herself having to make some uncomfortable decisions about her own life in ways that affect theirs.

I thought this was one of the most heartfelt novels I’ve ever read. Shortridge tends to be a generous author, imbuing even her villains with a substantial degree of humanity. If anything, her characters make too much sense in light of who they are. But they are challenged — and everyone in When She Flew is challenged — they discover capabilities and stances they didn’t know they possessed.

I’m strongly recommending this book. If you haven’t read anything by Shortridge, I advise starting with this or Eating Heaven.

As for animals, there are a lot of birds because Lindy watches birds and cares about them. She and Ray even have a near-pet in the form of Sweetie-Pie, a barn owl who Ray rescued from a fox and who hangs out at their encampment. Blue herons play a big role, too, both literally and symbolically. For her part, Jess befriends Chris, a policeman from the K-9 squad whose partner is a German shepherd named Larry. Otherwise, there are assorted farm animals.  Since none of these animals come to any harm, I am declaring this book SAFE for animal lovers. Enjoy!

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January 11, 2010 - Posted by | animals, birds, Book Reviews, families, wildlife | , , ,

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