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When Elephants Fly

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  898 ratings  ·  265 reviews
There are some battles worth fighting even if it means losing yourself.

T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she's not developing schizophrenia.Genetics are not on Lily's side.

When she was seven, her mother, who had pa
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Harlequin Teen
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Nancy Fischer So glad you liked it! I've written a bunch of sport autobiographies and a Star Wars trilogy. My next young adult novel will be The Speed of Falling Ob…moreSo glad you liked it! I've written a bunch of sport autobiographies and a Star Wars trilogy. My next young adult novel will be The Speed of Falling Objects. It will be published by HarperCollins/Inkyard Press October 2019.(less)

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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  898 ratings  ·  265 reviews

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Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-arcs
My heart hurts. I have no words for what I've read, except possibly breathtaking. Powerful. Life-changing.

TW for suicide, abuse, schizophrenia, and animal abuse.

I'm not really sure what to say. That I infinitely prefer this book to Turtles All The Way Down? That reading from the perspective of Lily was just...eye-opening? Inspiring? Heartbreaking? I don't really think that words can adequately express what's running through my brain right now but I'll try.

I've never read a book that tackles sch
Patty (IheartYA311)
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was great. I didn't expect to like it so much! It was beautiful but heartbreaking. I'm not much of a contemporary reader but I love elephants, and like the main character, my mom is schizophrenic. Certain parts hit closer to home than I was prepared for. ...more
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather Warner
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaway
Such a GOOD book.....I laughed and I cried. Unusual story and so well written! Loved, loved, loved this book. Definitely recommend it! I started this book and could not put it down.
Jenna | JennaStopReading
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"The only promise with schizophrenia is that there's both hope and despair."

T. Lily Decker is an 18 year old girl living with a fear that I can't even begin to relate to - the fear that she, like most other women in many generations on her mothers side of the family, will develop schizophrenia. Instead of blowing out candles and celebrating her birthday party with friends, she spends her day soaking in the reality that she is now in the 12 year window where mental illnesses are most likely to r
Faith Simon
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I received an advance copy of this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

So pretty much all the reviews on this book are 5 stars, I feel like a total douche right now. *Feels especially nervous to review this book after I noticed the author sometimes sees and replies to the reviews 😳*
I don’t know if it was because I just finished one of the best books I’ve ever read before picking this up and I was suffering from a book hangover, or if the book really was that tough to get into
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Two seemingly disparate storylines drew me to WHEN ELEPHANTS FLY - baby elephants (because, who doesn't love baby elephants?) and the promise of a narrative that sheds some light on one of the most widely misunderstood and stigmatized of illnesses - schizophrenia. I wasn't prepared for how well these two subjects are interwoven in this story. I also wasn't prepared to have this book reach out and grab firm hold of my heart about halfway through. Swifty, the baby elephant, is one of the most hear ...more
Mrs. Europaea
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Crazy is genetic. It's the house I was born inside. There are no windows, just two locked doors. One door leads to normal, the other to insanity. At some point I will inherit a key, but I don't get to pick which door it unlocks.

Dickens could learn a few things from Nancy Richardson Fischer because if that is not a gripping opening then I don't know what is. AND THIS IS A YA NOVEL.

Lily, our protagonist, feels like she is a ticking time bomb. She has two years until her chances of having the same
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
"Crazy is genetic. It's the house I was born inside. There are no windows, just two locked doors. One door leads to Normal, the other to Insanity. At some point, I will inherit a key, but I don't get to pick which door it unlocks."

Tiger Lily Decker has lived her entire life in fear. At 7 years old her paranoid schizophrenic mother tried to kill her and since that time she has suffered not only from the crippling aftermath of that trauma but also from the idea that she too might lose
Melissa (YA Book Shelf)
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow! When Elephants Fly is a powerful novel that deals with a type of mental health issue that isn’t often dealt with in YA and a complex look at the issues surround animal captivity in zoos, traveling shows, and animal sanctuaries vs. the wild.

From the opening pages, I identified with Lily. Her all encompassing fear of not if, but likely when she developed symptoms of some type schizophrenia defined the way she lived her life. She got information from a variety of sources, including YouTubers
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm giving When Elephants Fly a 3/5 stars. I thought that this was a really cute book about a girl named Lily who is determined to live a normal life. That is, until she gets entangled with an elephant calf named Swift Jones. I loved the relationship between Lily and Swifty. I loved how she was so protective over that little elephant and how she would literally do anything for her. I loved the moral conflicts in the latter part of the book. However, I felt like this book lagged a lot. At 400 pag ...more
Shaye Miller
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This will be one of my very top YA reads of 2018 — I’m sure of it. I seriously didn’t know how to even start reading another book in the aftermath of this one. Just had to get that off my chest before I say anything else about this book. 🙂 The story is told from the perspective of T. Lily Decker, a high school senior who is facing more than her fair share of questions about the future. When she was a child, her schizophrenic mother attempted to kill her. And since schizophrenia can be hereditary ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was given an early ARC of this story to read because I do what I can to raise awareness of the plight of elephants and other wild animals in captivity - and I was thrilled with what I read! Not only does this book show the reader the perils of keeping elephants in zoos and having them perform in circuses, it does it with heart, grace, and imagination. I can't tell you why it made me cry without spoiling the plot, but both the protagonist Lily and baby elephant Swifty will tug at your emotions ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a potential time bomb in her genes. She has a strong family history of schizophrenia and her mother, in a psychotic episode, tried to kill her by throwing her off the roof. So Lily is just trying to survive and live a relatively uneventful life to avoid any stress that might push her in the same direction as her mother. But, life becomes complicated for Lily when she meets a baby elephant, born in a zoo, whose mother rejects her and also tries to kill ...more
Brittany Briggs
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was absolutely amazing! One of my favorite books! Highly recommended ! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Crazy is genetic. It’s the house I was born inside. There are no windows, just two locked doors. One door leads to Normal, the other to Insanity. At some point, I will inherit a key, but I don’t get to pick which door it unlocks. Even if I did, there’s no guarantee I’d understand the choice, or realize where I was going when I got there.”

Eighteen-year-old Lily faces a fear most of us can only just imagine. When she was just seven years old, her mother fell into a deep spiral of paranoid schizop
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book was truly amazing and something really special. This is a unique story of a girl named Lily with an increased chance of developing schizophrenia due to her family's history and her journey with a baby elephant, Swifty. Lily is supposed to be avoiding stressful situations for the next 12 years to hopefully avoid developing schizophrenia, but she is pulled into Swifty's world and has to decide how she wa
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
An incredible story of survival and finding something to believe in and fight for, When Elephants Fly will have you laughing, crying buckets and wildly cheering for Lily and her battle to save elephant calf, Swifty.

Lily is working off a tight plan to control the likelihood of her developing schizophrenia. The genetic odds are not in her favour but by living carefully she hopes to avoid following the same journey her mother took. But, when on assignment for her journalism internship, she
Lily is afraid that she will end up like her mother, who suffered from schizophrenia, she is trying all she can to achieve her dreams of being a journalist all while keeping her mental sanity in check. When Lily covers the story of a baby elephant named Swifty Jones, whose mother tried to kill her. Lily feels she must stick with the story and fight for the safety of the baby elephant.

Lily is a strong, determined character who is fighting for her dreams. She is afraid of becoming her mother and
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: schizophrenia
My full review can be found on the Epilie Aspie Chick blog!

This book really hit me hard because it asks the question I ask myself a lot as an Epilie-Aspie with major anxiety issues: am I living or am I waiting in fear? When mental health is an issue for you, it has this way of encompassing your world and taking over like it does in Lily's. The problem is that you ens up missing life when you do that. Life is worth the risk because at least you're giving yourself something to hold onto and that'
Ashlee Dario
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read. This book is beautifully written and is inspirational for so many who struggle with mental illness; in that you cannot let fear of the unknown stand in your way. ❤️
Em*Greedy* (Iniya)
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Life isn't a fairy tale. But there are all kinds of Happily-ever-after..!! ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was nothing like what I expected. The way they tackled mental health was incredibly well done and this is a very powerful book. I think this book is important and the issues it explored are not something widely seen, especially in YA. While it may be more of a 4 star for me, bumping it up to 5 for that.

* I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-arcs
It took me a while to be excited about reading this book. As contemporaries go, it was par for the course. There was romance and all the other things we love about the genre, but there were other things that really sets this book apart from the norm.

Lily was a great character to follow. She struggled with doing what was right for her and what was just right. Her mental health problems were imperative to the story. I thought it was carefully done and shed light on something I didn’t really know
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had no expectations of this book, except liking the title. Actually, I had less than no expectations and perhaps this is why I was so overwhelmed by everything about this book. It is insightful. It is tender. It is tragic. But it is also humorous, downright funny in places.

Lesson to be learned; to be a good friend you have to listen even to the silence. You have to give more than you take. You have to be there when it is uncomfortable and most inconvenient. because that is the most important
Maryam Asif
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
*4.5 stars* This was an outstanding novel that really emphasized the fear that comes with getting a mental illness. Mental illnesses impact people’s lives in so many ways that it’s crucial to inform people of how negative the effect can be. This novel grapples with the concept of being able to control your life by being extremely careful in every aspect of life. But that kind of life is already stressful and unfulfilling. Lily’s exposure to the elephant crisis was something that pushed her to ac ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could express with words how much I truly loved this book but I don’t think I possibly could. Sawyer, Otis, and of course baby elephant Swifty cracked my heart wide open. Tiger Lily quickly became one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. I read this book through many laughs, quite a few tears, and very high anxiety trying to anticipate what was going to happen next. Between gasping out loud and raising my fist in solidarity or excitement, this book had everything you could w ...more
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fuck poachers and circus owners. It amazes me how some people cannot seem to grasp the simple beauty of another living being; how we can just destroy whatever living thing we want and say it's our right as the top of the food chain. Well, it's not our right. Hunting and killing animals for no better reason than to use it as a wall ornament or to sell its parts for profit is wrong on every fucking level. So is using them as circus attractions by way of torture and degrading training techniques. T ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I chose this book from the title, since I adore elephants, and I’m so glad I did. When elephants fly deals with a few different major hot topics, but mental health is the issue in the forefront. The main character, Lily, has just turned 18 and is living life fearful that she will end up with schizophrenia, like her mom. She is doing an intern as a journalist and has the opportunity to do a piece on an elephant at the local zoo that is about to have a calf. The two story lines connect and there i ...more
Becca Akins
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
TRIGGER WARNING: Schizophrenia, suicide, and animal abuse

This story captured my heart. It’s not just about T. Lillian and her inner struggle with the potential of developing schizophrenia but with the horrors that can occur when animals are put into captivity. This is not just a mental health book but a book about how one person can make a difference. All of the characters left an impact. I really really loved this book and I highly recommend it.
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Welcome to my author page!

Here’s a bit about my books...

Young Adult Novels:

The Speed of Falling Objects (HarperCollins/Inkyard Press). When Elephants Fly (HarperCollin/Inkyard Press.

Middle Grade:
(Junior Jedi Knights Trilogy) for LucasFilm (Berkeley Press).

Sport Autobiographies:
Feel No Fear, The Power, Passion and Politics of a Life in Gymnastics (Hyperion), Monica: From Fear to Victory (HarperCo

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