Flyaway
Lucy Christopher




Lucy Christopher explores the remarkable bond between a young girl, a boy and a damaged wild bird - a relationship that will touch everyone who reads it. While visiting her father in hospital, thirteen-year-old Isla meets Harry, the first boy to understand her and her love of the outdoors. But Harry is ill, and as his health fails, Isla is determined to help him in the only way she knows how. Together they watch a lone swan struggling to fly on the lake outside Harry's window. Isla believes that if she can help the damaged swan, somehow she can help Harry. And in doing so, she embarks upon a breathtakingly magical journey of her own.

'Tender and touching, this is a delicate story about facing-up to difficulties and finding a way through'. Julia Eccleshare Lovereading4kids
, from University College School London

 

Alex, from University College School London

Flyaway is a novel by the author Lucy Christopher, which tells the reader of the emotional rollercoaster that a young girl named Isla is forced to endure, because of the hospitalization of her father due to a severe problem with his heart. When in the hospital, Isla meets a boy named Harry and the two immediately befriend each other.

 

Isla is quite a sensitive girl aged around eleven. Ever since her best friend, Saskia moved to Scotland, she has been quiet at school. Her hobbies are to go swan-spotting with her father and every time she visits the hospital, she spends time with her father and Harry. She is only allowed to see her father briefly, as he is very weak. When she spends time with Harry, she watches a lone swan on the lake, which is always there. Like most siblings, she experiences a love/hate relationship with her elder brother, Jack, with whom she regularly plays football. The current state of her life causes her to make some reckless and sometimes dangerous decisions.

 

Harry a daring and adventurous person who decides to not let his illness affect his general mood. He is often found in relatively high spirits, but there are points in the book where he is quite depressed and sad. However, his mood often changes when Isla is there and they look at the swan in the lake adjacent to the hospital.

 

Jack is Isla's brother. Like any sibling, he is embarrassed of his younger sister when in front of his friends, but when it's just them, they get on very well. Jack, unlike Isla, keeps all of his emotions bottled up inside, so when his father is urgently taken into hospital, Jack seems to be very disturbed and quiet.

 

The ending of the book is particularly gripping. Both Isla's father and Harry have an operation at the same time, and it is not certain whether either of them will survive. The way in which Christopher incorporates the swan into the story is great. The swan becomes a symbol of hope for both Isla's father and Harry.

 

I would strongly recommend Flyaway to friends, as it is an extraordinary page turner that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Amy, from Copthall School, Barnet

This book is called Flyaway by Lucy Christopher and gets its title from the swans that are mentioned in the book. It is set in the 21st century. The story takes place when Isla’s father needs to be taken to the hospital. At the hospital Isla finds a friend called Harry. They share a special connection, which are the swans that Isla tries to save. The interesting part was while Isla is trying to save the swans, could she have saved the ones she loves?

 

Overall my opinion of the book is that it is very enjoyable and interesting.

Ben, from University College School London

Flyaway is a story of friendship and overcoming obstacles, with exciting twists and plot changes which makes it an interesting novel to read. The story is told by Isla, a teenage girl with a love for all types of birds. When her father is taken into hospital, she meets a boy called Harry Brambling. Isla and Harry discover a swan out on the lake, and before they know it, everything changes.

 

Isla is an engaging narrator, with a warm personality and a selfless nature. She's supportive of her family's needs, encouraging to her sick father, and the anchor that ensures Harry keeps hold of the cheeky sparkle in his eyes. Like Isla's father, Harry's not well himself, though you'd never be able to tell from his high spirits and positive attitude. The friendship that forms between the two is amiable and innocent and a change from the usual story of ‘love' between two teens.

 

Accompanying Isla and Harry throughout the book is a lone swan that has become detached from its flock. This is a risky move for the author to make, as she creates a main character that is not able to talk or interact like a human can. However, aided by the vivid description of its beautiful physical appearance, she manages to make it just as important as the other characters, and possibly even the backbone of the story. The swan has the ability to just be, and to guide and offer comfort when it's needed most.

 

There are a few short dream sequences throughout Isla's story, and while they do fit into what's happening in the real world, I felt that a couple of them interrupted the flow of writing and unnecessarily complicated things. However, the last venture into Isla's imagination is so poignant and touching, that it really made me think whether or not the story would end as I thought it would.

 

Flyaway is chock-full of beautiful imagery, realistic plot threads and short chapters that will tug at your heartstrings. An excellent read, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a short novel and mind-boggling twists.

Daniel, from University College School London

Flyaway is the tale of a girl in her early teens named Isla coming to terms with the hospitalisation of her beloved father. The book is written in the first person which further adds to the

sentimental nature of the book. The story follows Isla's efforts to remain composed amid a storm of fears and worries surrounding her father's dire medical situation.

 

Of the three We Read books I've read, this is by far the least surreal one, as it includes many elements of our everyday lives; going to school, waiting in a hospital reception, playing football in the park, only with added complications such as the swan.

 

Determined to cheer up her ailing father, Isla continues to devote a lot of time to a passion shared between her and her father: the Whooper swans. Her interests are focused on one particular, isolated swan which resides on the lake near the hospital and appears unable or unwilling to fly. As the story progresses, Isla becomes more and more fixated with this swan. This fixation is shared by Harry, a hospital patient her age. Harry is also intrigued by the lone swan on the lake and through the course of the book cultivates a close friendship with Isla.

 

The relationship between the different characters is a key element of the book and also helps to add substance to an otherwise simplistic plot.

 

My overall assessment of Flyaway is that it is a book aimed at a slightly younger audience and is probably more palatable for girls. My personal preference for grand, exciting plots was not nearly satisfied by this simplistic, unoriginal tale. Moreover, the author's jumpy, syncopated writing style, which was reminiscent of Jacqueline Wilson, did not agree with me at all. I thought there was much too much of ‘I did this and I did that and then suddenly this happened and all of a sudden I felt this'. At points in the book I felt like I was reading an elongated sob story.

 

To conclude I would say that Flyaway was by far the worst of the WeRead books I read, but that doesn't mean for one moment that it can't be enjoyed by others.

Emma, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

I enjoyed reading Flyaway. I liked the relationship between Isla and her Dad. When Isla's Dad collapses and is taken to hospital she is heart broken and blames it on herself. In the hospital Isla meets Harry. She enjoys being in his company because he's always cheering her up.

 

I thought the character of Grandad and his issues with entering the hospital were well written.

 

Overall I have enjoyed  reading Flyaway and would highly recommend it to anyone. I give it 10/10.

Ilya, from University College School London

The writer, Lucy Christopher, immediately opens the gates for a masterpiece by initially engulfing the reader into the book with her exquisite style of writing. Unlike the great majority of writers she writes in the present tense, which is unbelievably intriguing. Christopher writes in short, simple sentences which are very easy to process and understand and which create the impression of the words floating as if the page was clear water. Furthermore, it can be exceedingly difficult to successfully get your point across while using the present tense, so this writer is very skilled even if she hasn't written many books yet. Also, while the book seems simple on the whole, lots of different animate and inanimate objects appear throughout the story as symbols of feelings and emotions; like the appearance of the excited, ginger-haired Harry, who is unfortunately powerless due to illness. The whole story revolves around the main topic - birds. Every event and emotion is compared to different images and senses of birds.

 

Isla is a keen bird watcher, led into the world of flying creatures by her father and grandfather. Whooper swans used to come to her grandfather's lake when coming back from up north and was a magical and thrilling sight. However, after Nan dies, they leave. One early winter morning, Isla and her father witness the swans landing on a reserve, smack against electrical wires and then flee in search of a better place to stay. That is when the search for the swans begins.

 

This causes Isla's father to collapse. Thankfully the girl doesn't panic and her father is taken to hospital quickly. While wandering the pristine corridors of the hospital she meets Harry, "with his scruffy ginger hair and firefly eyes". Isla is horrified to find out that Harry too is ill and now wears the burden of the potential death of two people close to her; she is alone in school, as her friend Saskia has just left for Glasgow; and she is picked on by her older brother, Jack, at home.

 

The main character, from whose point of view the story is told, Isla treasures those close to her and is extremely passionate about birds, especially swans. Her dad loves birds even more than Isla. A very hard-working man he does everything to help his family. Unfortunately, he is not on great terms with Granddad. Harry is a greatly inspirational figure; often optimistic, despite his condition. He also becomes intrigued in birds as his relationship with Isla progresses.

 

If I were to rate this book I would give it an outstanding 9.5/10. I found this book a fantastic piece of writing, particularly due to Lucy Christopher's skill with words and if I were to rate the author I would easily give a 10. The book engulfed me and I couldn't stop reading. However, the half a mark that I didn't give was due to a couple of small reasons. Primarily, it is actually exceedingly difficult to portray as many ideas and thoughts in such a small book. I felt it just ended slightly too quickly and after enjoying it so much I was a bit disappointed to read the last page. Secondly, the ending was a bit clichéd. However, on the whole it was a wonderful book, written with lots of feeling. It was an enjoyable read and probably the best short book I have ever read.

 

Jed, from University College School London

Flyaway by Lucy Christopher is set in England and narrated by a young girl called Isla. She is a troubled girl because her father is ill with a heart problem. The only thing that brings her peace of mind is watching the swans.

 

While her father is in hospital she meets a young boy about her age called Harry and they strike up a relationship. Isla and Harry both have a talking point; swans, and it just so happens that from Harry's hospital room there is a view of a lake with a swan. However this particular swan isn't just an ‘ordinary' swan; this swan seems to be able to understand and communicate with humans! And so the story begins... Read the book to find out more!!

 

Personally I didn't find this book to my taste; I believe it would be more suitable for a different age range, most probably girls between the ages of 10-13. 

Joey, from University College School London

The book Flyaway was written by Lucy Christopher. Personally I found this book very interesting and very well written but it did get slightly tedious at times. The storyline is very touching; it has also taught me a lot about how to look at life and relationships in the real world.

 

The story is about the remarkable bond between a girl (Isla); a sick boy called Harry, and an injured wild bird. Isla loves nature. She meets Harry who shares the same passions as her. After they witness seeing a swan struggling to fly on the lake outside Harry's window, Isla decides that if she can save the swan maybe she'll be able to save Harry too.

 

I thought the novel was very clever in that it made you think but it also did lack some adventure and excitement which I prefer in the books I read. The story shows the reader that even the small things in life can make a difference and how relationships grow in different ways. I found that the further I read the more I go into it and quite enjoyed it.

 

The book is filled with emotion and although personally it wasn't my preferred read, I can see how other people would find it very entertaining. I would recommend this novel and overall would give it a score of 5/10.

 

Jonathan, from University College School London

Flyaway is narrated by a teenage girl, Isla, who has a passion for birds. She is seen as an outcast by most people, including her brother. The story follows her when her father is in hospital and is a stressful time for the family. This helps illuminate many of Isla's characteristics including her selfless nature and her desire to encourage those around her. While Isla is at the hospital she meets a boy called Harry who, like her father, is ill. These two characters build a relationship throughout the story and Isla helps Harry keep occupied and tries to prevent him from worrying about his fears.

 

Accompanying Isla and Harry through the book is a solitary swan that seems to be able to communicate with Isla and is just as important as the other characters in the story.  The swan offers comfort and reassurance to Isla when she needs it.

 

Flyaway is definitely a book which can be judged by its cover; its flowery front-cover does give you an insight into what the narrative will be like. This book is strongly aimed at females! The book is engaging and has an interesting tale but I felt that the story-line was unrealistic and almost covered up the reality of illness. I disliked the main character, probably because I have never read a book narrated from a female perspective before, and there were places where I felt I could not empathise with her emotions.

 

The book is worth reading if you like a romance/fiction but I would strongly advise you to avoid this book if you own a Y chromosome.

Joss, from University College School London

Flyaway is a book by Lucy Christopher about a boy with leukaemia and a father called Graham. The story is told from his daughter, Isla's perspective. Other characters include her older brother Jack, her mother Cath and her grandfather Martin. I'd define the book's genre as a mixture of realism and fantasy because of the fact that some parts are dreamt and some are real, though it's difficult to distinguish the two.

 

The book begins with Isla and Graham running to see a group of swans on a lake. At first, the flock which seemingly comes out of nowhere amazes them, but then it takes a turn for the worst as the swans start to die. Graham then suffers a heart attack whilst trying to stop the swans from landing whilst Isla saves a swan to bring back to Martin, an ex-vet.

 

Her grandfather has an amusing typical grouchy old man personality. Harry has a great sense of humour and Jack is the standard older brother who only cares about his friends and football.

Lylah, from St James Catholic High School

This story is told by Isla a teenage girl with a love for all different types of birds. When her father is taken to hospital she meets a boy called Harry Brambling. Isla and her father found a hurt swan out by the lake just before her father was admitted to hospital.

 

Isla is one of the best characters in the book. She is very loving and caring, she helps her sick father and tries to make him fell better, to make him feel not so sad and lonely in hospital.

 

At the hospital, Isla is waiting to see her loving father and at the same time she makes friends with Harry. Harry has health problems and Isla takes Harry to the lake to see the swans to make him feel better and not stay in hospital. Harry is very confident and does not want people to feel sorry for him, but you still feel sorry for him. The feelings between Isla and Harry are very close and very caring in the novel.

 

Isla and Harry spot a swan on a lake near where her father and she went and found the hurt swan. Isla loves the swan like no other human could be in love with a swan in a life time. This is a wonderful experience with the swans and with Isla and Harry; also with her father don't you think this is a good connection to have as a teenager?

 

Flyway is a happy and joyful book to read.  The plot would make you read the book with out putting it down. The characters in the novel will make you enjoy it and make you feel that you belong in the book. The story is about people coming together and trying to make things better for each other.

Matteo, from University College School London
Lucy Christopher's Flyaway is a novel set in modern day England and narrated by a young girl called Isla. She is a troubled young girl whose father suffers from heart problems. Through this pull back for the normal life she dreams of she manages to find refuge through an emotional bond with swans. 


Throughout the story her father's problems worsen and Isla finds herself in the hospital tending for her father and fighting another emotional battle. Whilst there she meets Harry, a boy who is roughly her age and although they have never met they find themselves with a talking point, swans. With this Harry and Isla spend hours staring at swans and divulging in conversations about them. Whilst observing this swan Isla discovers that she has a very special talent, she manages to communicate with it, this emotional bond that she thought she had was actually magical and spiritual.

 

The story progresses and this bond progresses... read more to find out!

 

This book was not to my taste. In my opinion I believe that this book was not for my age group, or gender. I believe that this book would best suit eleven-year-old girls. I would not recommend it to any of my friends, but maybe to my little sister!

Max, from University College School London

Flyaway is an interesting book about a man who goes by the name of Graham who has a very bad heart condition and a boy who goes by the name of Harry who has leukaemia (cancer of the blood). It is told from the perspective of Isla, a girl of thirteen who is extremely close to her father. She is also very close to her Grandfather Martin and has an older brother called Jack and a mother called Cath.  The style of the writing is, in my opinion, fantasy. Often the writer is talking about what happens in someone's dream and it can be very hard to distinguish whether it is [real] or not.

 

The plot switches between swans and humans which are an obsession of Grahams and Isla's. It starts with Graham and Isla going to see a family of swans on a nearby lake. Suddenly they all start to fall out of the sky, covered in blood. Graham is so upset that he runs into the lake to try and stop them landing, but this causes him to have a heart attack. Isla is extremely upset at seeing her father having a heart attack. After this, Isla manages to rescue a swan and gives it to Martin who used to be a vet. I like the grandfather as he has a bit of a grumpy trait.

 

The writer, Lucy Christopher, is obsessed with swans. You can tell this by the way she describes them and how she portrays the swan as a symbol of peace and love. They also symbolise rebirth such as when the swan that was totally isolated eventually joins her flock. Isla kind of becomes part swan when she talks to the swan near the hospital and when she has to "flyaway" like a swan to escape the reality of her father being very close to death.

 

It is swans that keep the story going. Harry spends his time in the children's cancer ward looking at the lonely swan on the lake below. Isla is also able to use the swan wings she is given to impress her class.

 

It is not a book I would choose to read as I don't like the plot but I did enjoy how this one swan could symbolise most of the characters in the book. I rate this book 3/10 purely because I found it hard to read as it certainly was not a page turner and as I said not something I would be interested in.

Noah, from University College School London
Flyaway by Lucy Christopher is a story is told by Isla, a teenage girl with a love for all types of birds. When her father is taken to hospital, it is there she meets a boy called Harry Brambling. Isla and Harry discover a swan out on the lake, and before they know it, everything changes.

Isla is an engaging narrator, with a warm personality and a selfless character. She's supportive when her family needs her, she's encouraging to her sick father, and she's the anchor that ensures Harry keeps hold of the cheeky sparkle in his eyes. Like Isla's father, Harry's not well himself, though you'd never be able to tell from his high spirits and positive attitude. The friendship that forms is lovely and innocent, and is a refreshing change from the hormone-charged teenage relationships you often see.

Accompanying Isla and Harry throughout the book is a lone swan that has become detached from its flock. It might not be able to talk or interact like a human can, but it's just as important as the other characters. It has the ability to just be, and to guide and offer comfort when it's needed most. It's described so vividly that I almost believed it could be sat outside in my own tiny fish pond, bobbing for goldfish and tormenting the frogs!

There are a few short dream sequences throughout Isla's tale, and while they do fit into what's happening in the real world, I felt that a couple of them interrupted the flow of writing and unnecessarily complicated things. The last venture into Isla's imagination is so moving and touching, and really made me think things were going to turn out differently than they did.

Flyaway is chock-full of imagery, realistic plot threads and short chapters that will tug at your heartstrings. It's a story about family, friendship, and overcoming the many obstacles that life will inevitably present.
Pascal, from University College School London

Flyaway is a feel-good book written by Lucy Christopher.  This is the second book she has written, the first one called Stolen.  It is based on a teenage girl called Isla and how she and her father are devoted bird watchers; in particular the whooper swans.  As they are chasing after the swans (like they do every year) Isla's father has a heart attack and this is where the story really begins.

 

While her father is in the hospital, Isla meets a cancer patient of the same age as her called Harry Brambling.  The two instantly strike up a friendship so close you would have thought that they had known each other for longer than two days.  Isla is so comforting and sensitive to Harry's condition you can see why he likes her.

 

Within the hospital grounds there is a lake which attracts all kinds of wildlife, including one of the swans that Isla and her father were chasing after.  When Isla approaches it, it seems unafraid and even more curiously follows her every move.

 

At this point in the story, Lucy seems to be able to reach out from the pages of the book and pull you in. It enthrals you and you just don't want to stop reading.  Intrigued by the lack of flight in the bird, Harry and Isla try to teach it to fly again with a flying machine that Isla made in class.  When Harry goes into surgery and the situation seems dire for Isla's father, it doesn't seem like things are ever going to get better...

 

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book half as much as I did and thought that it engaged with the reader with an all too real plausible storyline.  Normally I go for books that have adventure and thrill in them but I think this is a great book and I would definitely recommend it to someone to read. 

qdwqwd, from University College School London
Sapna, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Flyway is a breathtaking, magical and touching novel told by a teenage girl, Isla. She has a passion for swan watching, branching from her father. The two often watch a flock of swans but one day, disaster strikes. Isla’s father is taken into hospital where it is revealed he has suffered a heart attack. Spending her days there, Isla soon meets a boy, Harry Brambling, suffering from cancer. The two discover an injured swan, which Isla studies for a school art project. A magical relationship is formed between the swan and girl. And then, everything changes.

 

Isla, the engaging and selfless protagonist of this page turning novel, has a compassionate personality and is incredibly supportive of all who need her. She is Harry’s anchor to normality and who keeps him alive mentally. She encourages her father’s passion for swans whilst he lies in hospital, and puts Harry in high spirits whilst both are severely ill. The two teenagers’ friendship blossoms and is sweet and innocent.

 

Also vividly described is the lone swan, who Lucy Christopher writes of so enchantingly, that I could imagine one myself, flying through the air, its wings spread gracefully. I didn’t used to be fond of swans before but now after reading this delightful book, I would love to experience the magic of swans for myself.

 

The ending was unpredictable, making the novel different and unusual. It ran on a remarkable storyline but what made it a book I would recommend to anyone is that its beautiful relationship of swan and girl would touch the heart of anyone who read it. Flyaway is also a delicate story about facing up to difficulties, balanced out as it explores the fun and magic of a swan. The beautiful imagery helped me to live in every page, and kept me reading until I had turned the last page.

Sarah, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

Flyaway is a fantastically well-written book, and has unexpected twists that give the book a life of its own.

 

Lucy Christopher paints a colourful picture of something that might happen in real life. Her main character Isla, is a teenage girl dealing with teenage problems; an older brother growing up faster than her, and a friend that has moved away. Her mum is being difficult and her grandad even worse. She also has to deal with the fact her Dad has serious heart problems, a boy with leukemia that might die and a swan who doesn't know how to fly.

 

With a wonderful plot, interesting characters and emotions, Flyaway is a wonderful book.

Stefan, from University College School London

Isla and her father often go to watch the swans fly in at the same time every year, but this year a tragic event happens, which shatters them both. The book follows Isla’s story through moments of pain, sadness, and worry, but also through happiness and joy.

 

Isla is an engaging narrator, with a warm personality and a selfless nature. She's supportive when her family needs her, she's encouraging to her sick father, and she's the anchor that ensures Harry keeps hold of the cheeky sparkle in his eyes. Like Isla's father, Harry's not well himself, though he makes the most of the life he has and enjoys it. The friendship that forms between them is so lovely and innocent and at some points makes their lives seem as though they have no worries.

 

Accompanying Isla and Harry throughout the book is a lone swan that has become detached from its flock. It might not be able to talk or interact like a human can, but it's just as important as the other characters. It has the ability to just be, and to guide and offer comfort when it's needed most. It is described so vividly that I almost believed it could be sat outside in my own tiny fish pond, bobbing for goldfish and tormenting the frogs. I never had any interest in swans before reading Flyaway, but now I have a liking for them that is completely new.

 

Flyaway is packed with beautiful imagery, realistic plot threads and short chapters that can be quite emotional. It is a story about family, friendship, and overcoming the many obstacles that life will inevitably present.