Taking Flight

312p. ebook available. Fitzhenry & Whiteside. Sept. 2015. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781554553280.
Gr 7 Up—Two cousins, Declan and Vicky, who are from opposite socioeconomic sides of town, narrate this story that centers on horses and show-jumping in present-day Ireland. Declan's mother is put into rehab, and he is forced to live with his aunt and prissy cousin Vicky, who owns a show horse named Flight. As part of a work experience program, Declan volunteers at the stables, and though he has never had much contact with animals, he is changed by his proximity to the horses, especially Flight. As tragedy occurs and both cousins are to blame, Declan withdraws back into the tough street youth he once was. Both voices are believable as teens and are well drawn and layered. Vicky is spoiled and a little bratty, but depictions of her divorced parents and upper-class lifestyle provide an explanation for her behavior. Declan rebels in classic "fight and flight" ways, but he narrates his reasons and his feelings in a way that will feel relatable. American readers will easily understand the meaning of the Irish slang within the context of the story and dialogue. Both narrators experience a bit of a romance, appropriate for even young teens.
VERDICT Recommended for general purchase, this title should appeal to fans of horse stories.

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