Fly Away Home, the latest novel by best-selling author Jennifer Weiner, sounds a bit cliché at first-good for a beach read, but probably padded with fluff. The premise seems tired: a senator’s wife finds herself betrayed by her husband’s scandalous affair and she and her two daughters must find themselves in the wake of the turmoil. However, both presumptions couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead of feeling like I was reading a collection of clichés from other novels, I found myself drawn in by the characters, relating to bits and pieces of their story, and truly wondering how it would all end (Spoiler Alert! I was satisfied, but not all of my questions were answered, which was okay with me).
Sylvie Woodruff willingly gave up a career as a lawyer decades ago to be her husband’s everything, helping him in his work as a senator and raising their two girls, Diana and Lizzie. And as much as she continues to believe that was she does has value, it all comes crashing down when the news breaks of her husband’s affair with a young colleague. Sylvie is forced to re-examine her life, her purpose, and her role as a mother. Meanwhile, Diana, her oldest, has planned every aspect of her life but didn’t plan on it building a loveless cage around her. And Lizzie, her younger daughter, is fighting to recover from years of substance abuse and questioning what it really takes to become a normal woman in the real world.
As these women struggle to stay out of the spotlight and take charge of their lives, each grows up in different ways, but they all discover the bond they share as family, something that had been cast aside before in the name of bigger and better things for Sylvie and Diana and indifference and shame for Lizzie. With each chapter, Weiner’s voice leaps off of the page as more mature than some of her previous works. She writes with a wisdom that comes with age and experience, and reading her words is like wrapping yourself in a comforting quilt. Her characters are unpredictable but approachable, and the plot keeps you guessing and cheering them on until the end.
As a Jennifer Weiner fan, I have read and enjoyed her work from the beginning, with Good In Bed. And while I’ve enjoyed each book, some more than others, I feel that I’ve grown up with Weiner. The somewhat immature voice of some of her characters in early works resonated with me then, and the more settled voice she writes with in Fly Away Home is something I’m eager to embrace now. Her characters struggle, don’t always make the best decisions, and you don’t always like what they’re doing. But in the end, they reflect real, three-dimensional women who are learning, just as I am, which is comforting and enjoyable to read from beginning to end. Fly Away Home is a satisfying and entertaining read that I highly recommend.
Book Review: Jennifer Weiner’s Certain Girls