Sometimes all you can do is fly away home …
When Sylvie Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips, and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician’s wife-her hair dyed and straightened, her hippie-chick wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator.
Lizzie, the Woodruffs’ younger daughter, is at twenty-four a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control. Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achieve-a husband, a young son, the perfect home-and yet she’s trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER’s exam rooms, she finds herself craving more.
After Richard’s extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be.
Written with an irresistible blend of heartbreak and hilarity, Fly Away Home is an unforgettable story of a mother and two daughters who after a lifetime of distance finally learn to find refuge in one another.
Before I even begin I have to clarify that I have yet to read something I don’t like from Jennifer Weiner. ‘Fly Away Home’ is another re-readable book by her. It fits the classic chick lit mold without the ‘…and they lived happily ever after’. Or everything solved and wrapped neatly in a happy little bow. Honestly, either of those outcomes almost always feels contrived and unrealistic.
You know the story. Boy meets girl. Fall in love. Get married. Have children. Work their way up the career ladder, in this instance politics, and achieve their dreams. Good child. Screwed up child. Boy screws up. Girl is heartbroken. Meanwhile good child screws up. Screwed up child finds her way, kind of. Bare bones but an outline we can all identify with. But that doesn’t tell the story and it wasn’t wrapped up neatly in a bow either. Sylvie and Richard fall in love at college, he follows his dreams into politics. Sylvie manages his career, their lives and home and to some degree their daughters. The good child, Diana, is a doctor, married with a son. She chose her marriage based on not having what her parents had and finds herself unhappy. And the day the news that her dad had an affair with a political aide breaks she’s in the midst of her own affair. Lizzie, the screwed up child, is fresh out of rehab…again, and learning how to date sober while babysitting her nephew.
Girl leaves boy to try to decide what she wants from life and her marriage. Good daughter leaves husband but also gets dumped by her fling. Screwed up child gets pregnant and hides it from everyone, walking away from the father because she is scared of rejection. Most of the story is wrapped up in some variation quite neatly. Good daughter and husband divorce but amicably. Screwed up daughter lives with her sister and watches her nephew while reuniting with baby daddy. Girl and Boy talk but no decisions are made as to their future. Though he decides to retire instead of shoot for the oval office.
It’s a good story. A great lay in bed on a cold winter day with hot cocoa read or a beach bag book in the summer read. It’s not going to make have deep thought provoking thoughts but you might actually think a time or two. It didn’t leave me feeling overly emotionally invested but I did feel a kinship for the characters. It’s a good book. I can’t say it’s great. I can’t say it’s amazing. But I can say I would read it again.
About Jennifer Weiner
Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of fourteen books, including Good in Bed, The Littlest Bigfoot, and her memoir Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, she lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at JenniferWeiner.com.
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