Madison's Reviews > We'll Fly Away

We'll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss
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really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, young-adult

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 struggles to maintain his wrestling record for a college scholarship with his mother’s ever increased neglect and caring for his two younger brothers, and Toby falls into a relationship with an older woman while continuing to face his father’s abuse. Events will come to a head as the boys fight for their friendship, their future, and their freedom.

We’ll Fly Away is written both through third-person narration focusing on the two main characters, Luke and Toby, and letters written by Luke to Toby from death row. This before and after style is tantalising, as it is impossible not to wonder what happened to lead Luke to this current place.

We’ll Fly Away does everything it sets out to do. However, it is not the sort of book I could say I enjoyed. It is important and it’s message, while clear and made clearer from the author’s note, is not preachy nor overbearing. Instead, We’ll Fly Away is the perfect conversation starter, ideal for sparking debate, and something I would love to unpack with teen readers.

Toby and Luke, for all their flaws and unrepentant teenage-boy-ness, are likeable characters. In fact, it’s hard not to want to sweep them away from their life of abuse and neglect. But this is their story - hard though it might be.

There are many important topics touched upon in We’ll Fly Away. Most notable, perhaps, are child abuse, poverty, and the justice system incorporating the death sentence. While We’ll Fly Away doesn’t promise a happy ending, there is a thread of hope that runs through the story. Perhaps it is the boys’ resilience, perhaps the quiet times of them dreaming of another future, perhaps in enjoying the small moments. In any case, it’s the type of hope that is more likely to have you crying than smiling, but it is hope nonetheless. We’ll Fly Away is a powerful novel.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library
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Reading Progress

October 17, 2017 – Shelved
October 17, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
April 1, 2018 – Started Reading
April 2, 2018 – Shelved as: contemporary
April 2, 2018 – Shelved as: young-adult
April 3, 2018 – Finished Reading

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