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We'll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss
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really liked it

3.5 STARS

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 events surrounding his imprisonment. Luke had way too much responsibility at home, caring for his twin brothers and keeping his flaky mother on the right track. His anger was palpable and justified. He always seemed one step away from losing it. Toby, a perpetual victim, lacked social skills and often seemed to provoke others.

In the afterward, Bryan Bliss talks about witnessing an execution as a journalist and becoming an advocate against capital punishment, which surprised me, because he did no research about prison life for people on death row. They aren’t walking around, mingling with other inmates, playing basketball and having face-to-face meetings with a nun and his lawyer. When an inmate is executed, he’s not roaming around the day beforehand. These might seem like minor details, but they distracted me from the story.

Another issue I had with WE’LL FLY AWAY is that Bliss showed all the low income families as abusive or neglectful and the parents at best incompetent, at worse abusive. A lot of poor people are in their circumstances through no fault of their own. They love and care about their children just as much as wealthy folks.

WE’LL FLY AWAY is a tough, but important read. If Luke and Toby had told adults about their circumstances, they could have prevented much pain and suffering. Coach proved he would have stepped up for Luke again and again.

Bliss’s writing kept me interested, though the story did lag in the middle. I wanted to know what happened to Luke and Toby and why.

WE’LL FLY AWAY is a flawed, but worthy story.
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Reading Progress

May 8, 2018 – Started Reading
May 8, 2018 – Shelved
May 9, 2018 – Finished Reading

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