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Book review: 'Girls Don't Fly' is about more than just birds

By Rosemarie Howard

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 8 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

"GIRLS DON'T FLY," by Kristen Chandler, Viking, $16.99, 300 pages (f)

Kristen Chandler’s second young adult novel, “Girls Don’t Fly,” is about changing and adapting — both personal and Darwinian.

Three-and-a-half months before her senior year ends, Myra’s long-time boyfriend dumps her. Her superstar older sister, Mel, moves back home because she’s pregnant and unmarried. Both events play a factor in why Myra quits her job at the Lucky Penny Ice Cream Shop. On top of that she is responsible for much of the care of her two younger brothers.

Before the school year is over, Myra finds a new job, discovers an interest in birds, and competes with several other high school seniors, including her former boyfriend, for a scholarship to study in the Galapagos Islands. In the process, she learns that she is not the “doormat” Mel says she is. Perhaps she can fly.

Chandler, who lives in the Salt Lake City area, writes with a wry sense of humor and a style that shows an understanding and love of the teenage condition. Myra is an honest, moral and very refreshing young woman.

The story, told in first person through Myra’s voice, moves along quickly and gives a glimpse into how a high school senior in a small Utah town might be thinking and feeling.

Myra mentions “the religious kids” who aren’t supposed to work on Sunday. But some of them buy ice cream at the Lucky Penny while she’s at work on that day. Clearly, Myra is not one of them, but her former boyfriend, Erik, is. And he is not the clean-cut, upstanding young man his mother believes he is.

Personalized and witty definitions of bird terminology title each chapter and hint at what it's about. For example, “Twittering: short bird calls to keep in touch with members of the same species. Birds did it first.”

Chandler’s blog states that research for the book included going out with birding groups, learning from her former high school biology teacher, Merrill Webb, and travelling to the Galapagos Islands. The research and the author’s love of the outdoors shine clearly in her writing.

“Girls Don’t Fly” is definitely worth looking at.

The author will be at The King’s English Bookshop for a book signing, Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. She will also present at the Brigham City Library Book Festival, Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.

IF YOU GO ...

What: Kristen Chandler book signing

When: Thursday, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Also ...

What: Kristen Chandler speaking at Brigham City Library Book Festival

When: Tuesday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.

Where: Brigham City Library, 26 E. Forest St., Brigham City

Web: bcpl.lib.ut.us/bookfestival.html

Rosemarie Howard lives in a 100-year-old house on Main Street, Springville. Her website it at www.dramaticdimensions.com.

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