First Lines: In each South Carolina town where I’d lived–and I’d lived in a lot of them–the trailer park was next to the airport. After one more move when I was fourteen, I made a decision. If I was doomed to live in a trailer park my whole life, I could complain about the smell of jet fuel like my mom, I could drink myself to death over the noise like everybody else who lived her, or I could learn to fly.
It has been a very long time since I’ve read a Jennifer Echols novel. I bought this used library copy a few years back from the library for a quarter…and it’s just been sitting on my shelf since. Something about it kept making me want to put it off. But with little else to do, I decided to give it a chance.
Leah is no stranger to moving. Heaven Beach, South Carolina, is just another town to go to as her mom finds a new boyfriend to help them pay the bills. At school, Leah is thought of as no better than trash–but she’s the one who knows how to negotiate with a landlord and the one who gets a job at 14 in the hopes of getting herself out. Soon, with the help of Mr. Hall, who owns an aerial banner-advertising business, Leah learns how freeing it is to fly above everything and touch the sky. By the time she’s a senior, Leah is good enough to get a job with Mr. Hall. But Mr. Hall dies suddenly, before he can make Leah’s dreams come true. He leaves the business to his twin sons, the daredevil Grayson and golden boy Alec, who are determined to keep the business going. Though Leah has had a crush on Grayson for years, she’s wary about getting involved with a business run by a couple of distracted teenage boys. But when Grayson blackmails Leah into flying for him and pulls her into a battle between the brothers, it’s going to take all of Leah’s cunning to keep them all alive.
In truth, this was very different than what I usually read. Leah has lived in trailer parks for her entire life, moving to a new one every time her mom falls behind on the bills. Leah, at fourteen, drinks and smokes among other things. What turns her life around is the job at the local podunk airport next to the trailer park she now lives in. Suddenly, Leah knows she wants to fly. The thrill of being in the air, seeing the world from above, it’s perfection. Leah is definitely a struggling heroine. She’s got a hot-temper, she thinks everything is an insult, and she’s quick to manipulate a situation to her advantage. But she’s a survivor, a fighter. Her life has not been easy and she’s doing anything she can to make sure her life doesn’t continue that way.
Now, the book cover definitely makes this sound like there’s a love triangle. I actually thought about putting this book down because ugh, love triangles. But it’s not really that. There are the twin brothers, yes, but Leah only truly likes Grayson. But Grayson, for his own reasons, wants Leah to romance his brother or he destroys everything she’s built for herself. Leah has no choice, even if it’s all torture for her. So it’s not so much a love triangle as it is blackmail.
I enjoyed this book because it did so successfully highlight the flaws of every character in this story. No one is perfect, but no one ever is. And seeing how they work through their flaws was really interesting.
It’s the perspective I gained from reading this that really meant something. I got more out of this book than I thought I would.