Title: Flight of a Starling
Author: Lisa Heathfield
Publisher: Electric Monkey
UK Release Date: 29th June 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Thank you so much to Electric Monkey for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wing – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.
Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?
Trigger warning (highlight as I have put it in white because it’s also a spoiler): suicide.
Lisa Heathfield is an author who I’m always on the lookout for new books from. Whenever I hear about a new book coming from her, I add it to my TBR – I was so impressed with her fantastic debut, Seed, and with her second book, Paper Butterflies, that I knew I had to read Flight of a Starling too. It definitely had a different tone to her other books, with less of the shock of a horrific world, and she explored similar themes to her other books, but in a completely different way. Overall, I really enjoyed it!
First of all, I really loved the characters in the book. I thought it was excellent how well developed they were; none of them were perfect, but I think that was one of the reasons I liked them so much. It’s so boring when the characters aren’t well-rounded, as I find it means they lack depth. Heathfield’s characters had flaws, but it made them seem all the more real, and meant you could get completely caught up in their lives and the problems they faced. I also thought the way that things were shown and not told was absolutely incredible. Barely anything was stated explicitly, and yet I could understand exactly what was going on with a character in just a few words about their behaviour or stance.
I also loved the focus on family. In her previous book, Paper Butterflies, there is discussion around the idea of family, and this theme reoccurred in Flight of a Starling but with a completely different slant to it. It was such a lovely theme to read about as well, as I think a lot of the time romance can overshadow the idea of family, but in this book both the romance and family was important – and in some instances, conflicting. Lo’s internal struggle between her love for Dean (and the newfound desire to find a real home that came with that) and her loyalty to her family and the only life she’d ever known was a standout part of the book for me.
Finally, I loved the setting of the book – a circus! As mentioned in the blurb above, Rita and Lo make up the trapeze act in the circus, and it was honestly just so beautiful to read about. Heathfield just has such a talent for weaving powerful words, whether they’re horrifying (like in some of her other books) or gorgeous, like in this one. I did find the ending of the book a little like it came out of nowhere, but I thought it was written sensitively and, especially having seen her speak about the book, I can see that it is an aspect of a problem that really needs to be spoken about.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Flight of a Starling, and would recommend it to existing fans of Lisa Heathfield’s books, as well as those who are interested in reading about a beautiful but secretive world with problems that become more and more pressing.