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Born to Fly

Review

Born to Fly

Eleven-year-old Bird McGill is very different from other girls her age. She hates wearing dresses and doing other girly things, and would much rather climb up on the roof to daydream in the clouds. Her favorite activity in the entire world is flying airplanes with her father, who is a pilot and mechanic. Every chance they get, they climb in a plane and take to the sky; he even lets her work the controls sometimes. Bird dreams of someday flying a military P-40 Warhawk, but the odds are stacked against her. Female pilots are rare and not allowed in the military.

Bird has a wonderful relationship with her dad, who happens to be her only friend ever since Wendy moved away. But then the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, and the United States enters World War II. Bird’s dad has to join the military and go fight overseas. So Bird is once again without a friend close by her.

The War brings many other changes to their small town, including a new student at Bird’s school. Kenji Fujita is a Japanese American, and right from the start, everyone is suspicious of him just because he looks like the enemy fighting the United States. But Kenji is as American as anyone else in the town. Bird is also wary at first, but as she gets to know him better, they become the best of friends.

However, their newly formed friendship is soon tested after Bird and Kenji stumble onto a real war spy. Danger lurks everywhere as Kenji’s uncle is falsely accused. Many lives are at stake, including Bird’s and her family’s, but will she find the courage to stand up for what is right?

I knew BORN TO FLY was going to be special right from the first sentence. The heart of the story centers on a sixth grader who has a fiery spirit and a unique spark for life. She struggles to be true to herself when society dictates a different path. Michael Ferrari tackles some difficult themes in his debut novel, including tolerance, bigotry, courage and honor, and does so with honesty and sincerity, allowing the reader to share Bird’s challenges right alongside her. He also has a gift for words that carries his audience through the pages with excitement, adventure and even a bit of guidance.

“…Only I’d let him down. Betrayed him. All because I was scared. Of what? Something bad happening? It already had. Fear was always getting in the way, always stopping you from doing the really great stuff, the real important stuff. I was sick of it. What was it Dad had told me? The only one I needed to believe in me was me…”

This is an amazing, heart-touching story, and readers will look forward to more books from this talented newcomer.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on March 8, 2011

Born to Fly
by Michael Ferrari

  • Publication Date: March 8, 2011
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 0375846077
  • ISBN-13: 9780375846076