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We'll Fly Away

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,582 ratings  ·  337 reviews
Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses t ...more
Hardcover, 408 pages
Published May 8th 2018 by Greenwillow Books
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N I feel like "constant" and "frequent" are strange words to use here. I didn't even notice the swearing besides in one spot, so I feel like it couldn't…moreI feel like "constant" and "frequent" are strange words to use here. I didn't even notice the swearing besides in one spot, so I feel like it couldn't possibly be described as it is below. Check Common Sense Media for accurate answers to questions like these.(less)

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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,582 ratings  ·  337 reviews

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Mar 19, 2018 added it
I'm wrecked after reading this. A story about two boys -- best friends -- growing up in some of the worst imaginable circumstances of abuse and poverty. But, one of those boys is on death row, and writing to his best friend via letters as their stories play out in alternating chapters from a third person POV. You know things are going to spiral, and you see it coming, but the pain at the end is unimaginable.

But so is the hope.

A powerful story about friendship and tough circumstances. This one's
Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)
“We are not living in a world that stands still."
I have feelings after reading this books. Not bad feelings or even good ones, just a lot of feelings. This book definitely pulls at your heart and leaves an impact. It’s so much a character study of friendship and the messiness of life. It’s almost overwhelming, but in a good way. We’ll Fly Away follows best friends Luke and Toby living in their small North Carolina town. We see their friendship, their fights, and what happens when it
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

High school wrestling phenom Luke and his best friend, Toby are an odd pair. Toby, a victim of his father’s abuse and bullied at school relies on his stronger, bigger friend to protect him. That was then. Now Luke is on death row, writing Toby letters of apology.

Readers don’t know why Luke is in prison, we only know that he feels unworthy of the forgiveness he’s asking. Whatever happened had to be awful.

The story switches between Luke’s letters and a third person narrative about the eve
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Loved the characters and the ending will have you pulling at your heartstrings and feeling sorry and miserable about one of the characters. The book went both too fast and too slow at the same time and those speeds never really reached an equilibrium.
Sarah {Literary Meanderings}

• Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings

- - -

We'll Fly Away is a story that will leave you feeling a lot of feelings—and not necessarily good feelings. This book is bleak and it is sad, but it is a wonderful read.

Luke and Toby grew up together in a small North Carolina town and belong to families that could only be considered trashy—poor, abusive, inattentive, selfish, etc. Luke's mother has him and his younger siblings living in a one bedroom apartment much too small for them. She barely w
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-book-2018, 2018
I thought I was ready for this but I was wrong.

My feelings are destroyed.

I need a hug.


Full review can be found here:

I have been struggling with what to write for this book as it is important. I’m still not ok.

Short recap: Luke and Toby are two best friends did not have an easy childhood. They were always looking out for each other, doing their best to protect the other when their parents did not. When they get older, everything changes. Luke f
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
*4.5 stars
i'm a broken human being.

this was so, so horrible in ways that i truly did not see coming. cool.
imma start off with the bad stuff: the romance. ew. very badly done in my opinion and way too rushed and sometimes i just wanted to yell some sense into them but honestly? that's about everything i have to critize.
the build-up to the climax of the story was INSANE. the two different timelines made everything so much better and luke's letters were so beautifully written it hurt my soul. the f
tfw you're listening to a really sad audiobook on public transit that makes you cry ;_; ...more
I knew this would be a hard read going into it but that still didn't prepare me for its full impact. The way the story unfolded reminded me a bit of the way This Is Us works, with the reader seeing the past and the events leading up to the present, but also getting to see the present through letters one boy was writing to the other. The bond between the boys was strong and it was hard to see them drifting away from each other and fighting, though no matter how angry they'd get they would always ...more
Gary Anderson
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the opening pages of We’ll Fly Away, Luke is incarcerated and writing a letter to Toby from death row. Not until the final devastating scene do we discover what Luke did and why he did it. Between Luke’s letters to Toby a story unfolds about how these two high school seniors in a dead-end town are bound together by hard living caused by bad parents, risky opportunities, and low expectations. Luke is a state-champion wrestler, and for him that might be a ticket to the University of Iowa and be ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
We’ll Fly Away is a well-written, hard-hitting YA novel with important messages about poverty, child abuse, the justice system, and friendship. I knew We’ll Fly Away would be heartbreaking. I also expected it to be raw, upfront, exposed, and almost crude. It certainly is an unflinching book, with threads of hope (but mainly heartbreak) and a positive message.

Luke and Toby are best friends - the only ones to see inside the truths of the other’s life, the only ones who could understand. But Luke s
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was interesting. It is the story of two friends in the senior year of high school. Alternating chapters unfold the story between letters written from death row and the events that led up to the incarceration. This is not a feel good book. But if you like true crime podcasts and shows, this is an interesting book to read. The only thing is I felt that it ended too abruptly.

This quote taken from the authors note pretty much sums up the book:

"Yes, it is a book about the death penalty. B
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
@kidlitexchange #partner - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss!

The number one thing I loved about this book was the boy awkwardness. Two male main characters struggle to figure out their daily lives, their plans after high school, and their relationship with each other. These boys’ voices came so alive in my head!

Split between letters written from death row and the boys’ senior year, this story is told in a very unique way that really doesn’t wrap up until the end. Sometimes I don’t l
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. All the stars to this outstanding novel about friendship, life, struggle, redemption, and the essential question of what defines a person: a solitary moment in their life, or the rest of the days leading up to it.

I don't know how I heard about this book, but I put it on hold at the library and was surprised when it was there waiting for me the other day. I almost didn't make time for it (why would I when I couldn't remember who had recommended it or what rabbit trail led me t
Angela Staudt
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one sad book, that never gets better. Besides Toby and Luke’s friendship, nothing in this book really made me happy, and their friendship goes downhill soo.. I am just sad right now and need to wallow in my sadness.

This story is bleak, and doesn’t have a happy ending, but it’s amazing as well. I absolutely enjoyed getting to know Luke and Toby and how deep their friendship ran, so it crushed me to see them slowly drifting from one another and fighting. The book switching between letters
Katherine Moore
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, lmpbc, 2019-read
What a sad, depressing, and eye-opening read. It’s interesting that the author calls this his ‘death-penalty’ book, but I’ll definitely agree with it also being a book about friendship and loyalty, as well as one about child abuse, alcoholism, and neglect. So much is also about poverty and as a result, the loss of hope. The two teens in the story, Luke and Toby, don’t have much to look forward to in their lives, or ways to cope, and this feels very desperate and is difficult at times to read.
I c
Shauna Yusko
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am wrecked.
Carla A
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty heart crushing, and points for not ending exactly how I thought it would.
Author of NO PARKING AT END OF TIMES and MEET ME HERE, Bryan Bliss returns with his newest young adult novel, WE’LL FLY AWAY. This book follows two boys as they attempt to survive the wrath of their abusive families. Luke and Toby are childhood best friends who have promised to leave their small town together after graduating high school. However, things don’t go as planned once things with Toby’s abusive father become more drastic. Luke’s life isn’t so great either. His and Toby’s only chance o ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I have read in a really long time. It pulled me out of my reading slump, for which I'm oh-so-grateful. I truly enjoyed this book. I could not put it down and I read it non-stop for two days. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I really wanted to know why Luke was in jail so I kept reading and guessing what happened. It was an utter surprise, which I appreciated. I liked how it switches from past perspective from both boys perspectives, as well as modern day letter ...more
Greg Andree
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've loved both of Bryan's books so far, NO PARKING AT THE END TIMES, and MEET ME HERE. Both books had teens struggling through tough situations, and they were handled with care and nuance. Like those books WE'LL FLY AWAY is realistic, and looks at teen lives in a way that doesn't sugarcoat anything, but also isn't without hope. Also Bryan's craft in this book is such an amazing jump up so many levels from his previous book, and I'm a little in awe of it.

In the story we get to see two best frien
Mitchie Baudelaire
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Don't mind me. I'll be in my room making paper airplanes, imagining one of them, as is sails across my ceiling, is carrying Luke and Toby to some better place, to some 'happy ending they bloody deserved',Mr Author.

The story explores themes of friendship, love, one's endurance when life throws at you worst of circumstences.
Important questions are arised in brilliant prose narrative intercepted with letters (half epistolary novel) that made you wonder if justice is aplicable to every crime the sam
Kelly Hager
Oh, guys. Guys. This book absolutely broke me. We know from the beginning that something bad happened. We don't know what or why, but we know that Luke is writing letters from prison (and, even more than that, from Death Row) and we know he's guilty of whatever sent him there. 

The bulk of the book is a slow buildup of dread. The big reveal isn't a surprise, per se, but it's still absolutely heartbreaking. And even though we know what's going to happen, I still spent the book hoping that maybe th
Joanna Goodrich
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to receive a digital ARC copy of this book and boy am I so happy that I did. This book is absolutely amazing. The story keeps you pulled in and keeps you guessing about what exactly happened that Luke is now on Death Row. 

It goes between the letters Luke is writing to Toby, the past in Tobys' POV, and the past in Luke's POV. I really loved the multiple perspectives in this novel. I think it really adds to the story because you get a close up on what both boys are going thr
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Star high school wrestler Luke is writing to his best friend, Toby ---- from death row. Over the course of the book we follow their senior year of high school with an ever-increasing sense of doom until the inexorable, devastating climax, and discover why Luke is in prison. I was totally swept up in the story and the characters, suffering along with both boys and hoping for salvation by the end.

Powerful, devastating, unflinchingly honest. This book will be winning awards!!
**Actual rating: 4.5 stars**

When a book makes you cry on the subway, you know it's a good book. And I thought this would be tough to read, but damn, it really builds and builds and builds and then knocks you out. HOLY. Moses.

It's a powerful, tragic, heartwrenching story of friendship. A bond not of blood, but of choice and hope and connection. I can't stop thinking about it and I think it will be that way for a long time.
Patty (IheartYA311)
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Well, that was unexpected. This was so sad and depressing. I was angry with most of the characters, upset for others. I struggled to finish because I was bored in the beginning, not understanding the direction of the story. After about 100 pages, the pace picked up. An interesting, emotional, thoughtful read.
Donna B
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m not okay 💔
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a difficult read but so moving. So many tense moments held together by the dreams of what could be. This was very sad and emotional in the unfolding.

Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: very-good-read
Brilliant! This book is tragic but full of resilience. Though sadness prevails, how many at risk teenagers are one bad choice away.
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Bryan Bliss is the author of No Parking at the End Times, Meet Me Here, and We’ll Fly Away, which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award. He lives in Saint Paul, MN with his family.

You can visit him online at and on Facebook and Twitter.

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27 likes · 8 comments
“People are more than the worst thing they've ever done.” 1 likes
“I didn't want to hear another word he was saying, but then he was like, "You get to choose if you care. They can't take that away from you. And you get to choose if you're going to walk through the rest of your life like a dead man. I've made my choice."
After that, he stood up and stomped off like he was made at me. It's a good thing too. Because what Eddie and Sister--everybody in this place--doesn't realize is, you and I never had a choice. There wasn't a single moment when we weren't risking something. Every minute, every second. An anxiety that never leaves. Struggling for breath my whole fucking life.
And that's supposed to change in here?
-Luke (pg. 80-81)”
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