May 7, 2014

Arrivals & Departures

Taking Flight by Erin Brown

Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Source & Format: Author | e-ARC
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Seventeen-year-olds Willa Thompson and Dan Martin are falling in love. But there's one major problem: Willa lives in New York. Dan doesn't.

Teens with divorced parents, Dan, a comic book nerd from Texas, and Willa, a sassy urbanite, have spent the last three years coordinating their monthly trips to visit the parents they don't live with so that they can meet up during their layovers. As their junior year wraps up, Willa and Dan realize that their feelings for each other are more than friendly.

When they begin a long-distance relationship, Dan and Willa find out that there is more working against them than geography - both are serious students who aren't applying to any of the same colleges. To make matters worse, Dan's ruthless ex sees Willa as nothing more than a challenge to overcome, and Willa's more-experienced-in-love best friend doesn't trust Dan as far as she can throw him. Which is not at all.

Spanning a year and told from Willa and Dan's alternating perspectives, Taking Flight captures the many stresses of being a high school senior, and how very difficult - but also how very easy - love can be.

Thoughts on Taking Flight
To be completely honest, I don't think I've ever accepted a self-published book for review before this one. While I know there are truly some gems out there, it can still be really hit-or-miss. I already feel so swamped with traditionally published books that I struggle to take a chance on something that's been self-published... and then author Erin Brown contacted me about Taking Flight.

I'll admit that I was already predisposed to like Taking Flight because I follow the author on Twitter and am a fan of the book's editor. The connection I had with both was what made me take notice when I received the email about it, but I realized as I was reading the summary that I was really intrigued by the story itself. I have been craving some older young adult - you know, the kind that involves choosing colleges and graduating. So, I couldn't pass up on a book involving the stresses of being a high school senior! I've definitely passed that pivotal stage of life, but reading Taking Flight brought it all back like it was yesterday.

Okay, so I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me rewind a little bit and properly introduce you to this book. Taking Flight opens with a meet cute: Dan and Willa strike up a conversation at an airport, and it soon becomes a regular occurrence. And as crazy as they know it seems, their feelings for each other grow as the months fly by. The long-distance aspect of their relationship isn't the only thing standing in their way. With graduation quickly approaching, Willa and Dan must face the exciting but stressful reality that is choosing a college. And you'll have to actually read the book to find out any more!

Needless to say, I genuinely loved that Taking Flight focused so much on applying to college and all of the factors that go into choosing a school. Do you stay close to home? Challenge yourself by going somewhere new? And how much influence does your current relationship have over where you see yourself in the future? Brown explored this in her book, and I couldn't get enough! I can't think of another YA book off the top of my head that focuses so much on this part of being a teenager, so this felt like a breath of fresh air in that respect.

I enjoyed this book from the very beginning, but I did find that it really captured my interest and hit its stride by the time I was about a quarter of the way through. At that point, I found that I was really invested in the story and wanted to know what was going to happen with these characters. The ending was fitting and realistic, which I loved (and had to email the author about it as soon as I finished!). I think this touches on some of what "New Adult" could be - without all the intense drama that seems characteristic of it now. It's slightly more mature and deals with that transitional "still a teen but beginning to make adult decisions" phase in such an interesting way.

My only complaint about the book was that it was somewhat heavy on pop culture references and focused on a few too many details at times (like descriptions of characters' clothes, etc). Overall, it's a pretty minor criticism, and I was really glad that I decided to trust to my gut and give this self-published book a place in my reading schedule.

Taking Flight was a fun read that I could see so many fans of contemporary YA really enjoying! I was rooting for Willa and Dan and couldn't wait to see where their story was going to lead. I'd happily read more from Erin Brown in the future, especially if it involved a peek at these characters a few years later. Hint, hint!
*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my review.

4 comments:

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  2. I haven't heard of this book but it sound very interesting, and it also sounds like you really enjoyed it! It's intriguing to me because of the New York aspect (love anything set in NYC) and also the focus on university and moving beyond high school. I'm finishing off my grade 11 year so I'll be applying to universities this coming fall, and it's definitely stressful. I would love to see that played out in a book, because you're right - we don't see enough of that! Lovely review :)

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  3. I'd never heard of this title prior to you reviewing it, but color me curious! I got really interested in it when I read the summary, and just seeing your positive review cemented the interest. I might just have to give this one a try! It's got elements that really appeal to me - that particular time when you're choosing universities (and what feels like the rest of your life) and also, the long-distance relationship bit. Thanks for reviewing it and bringing it to my attention!

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  4. First of all, really happy that you took a chance on a self-pub book. Ever since I started writing pitches about them, I try to pay closer attention to my inbox because, like you said, there can definitely be some gems in there. I love to read about college stuff! You're right... there isn't enough about it. Maybe no one wants to relive it because it's so stressful. haha. OH MAN THOSE TIMES. I'm adding this to my TBR. (Boo on the pop culture references. I always watch out for this now because it was one of the critiques on a piece of writing in my college class. Every since then, MINDFUL.)

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