A thirteen-year-old hatches a plan of escape, solace, and utter independence through a dream of flight that’s both literal and figurative in this engrossing novel by National Book Award finalist Jim Shepard
As beset by the world as any thirteen-year-old—and maybe a little more so—Biddy Siebert does his best to negotiate both the intimacies and isolations of his world and his own maddening and slightly comical idiosyncrasies. His ferocious younger sister hates everyone, including him; his sprawling Italian family, when it comes to emotional matters, has the touch of a blacksmith; and his Catholic school education provides a ready framework against which he can measure himself as continually falling short of the ideal. As his grades slip and his family begins to come apart, Biddy searches for a focus and finds one during a trip in a family friend’s private plane: To rise above his troubles, he’s going to have to learn to fly.
Biddy resolves to steal the plane, having taught himself as a pilot through manuals and observation, and as he moves through the progressions of his plan, he slowly develops the confidence and independence he’s going to need later in life. In this compassionate and honest portrait of the challenges, missteps, and small successes of adolescence, Biddy is an unforgettable character whose problems might seem common but whose solutions are often extraordinary.