Book Review – Flying Lessons

flying-lessonsBy Awnali Mills

In our new books, I found Flying Lessons & Other Stories.  This is a compilation of short stories by diverse authors.  It’s hard to review a book of short stories by different authors, because you like some of them better than others.  I’ll tell you about the ones that I particularly enjoyed.

How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium by Matt de la Peña is about an eighth grader who is so good at hoops that he’s surpassed his contemporaries.  He hears about a pickup game near his father’s job that will sharpen his skills.  Through the process of trying to get into the game, he learns how to gain acceptance into an adult masculine culture.  I love how de la Peña wrote the story in the future tense, telling the reader how things are going to go when this situation happens.  It’s very intense and immediate.

The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn by Kelly J. Baptist explores the world of a young man who becomes homeless during the story.  His father has died and his mother is struggling with depression.  Isaiah wants more than this, and when he discovers stories written by his father, he thinks he’s found the way out.

In Flying Lessons by Soman Chainani, Santosh has been dragged on a European vacation by his eccentric grandmother.  Santosh is all about following the rules, getting good grades, and winning every academic award possible.  His Nani is all about doing the unexpected, breaking the rules, and having a good time.  Can the two come to a compromise?  Or is Santosh just going to have to grit his teeth and bear it?  I loved Nani’s outrageousness and Santosh’s struggle with her.  This is the only story that I had any problems with.  I loved it right up until the end, which left me with a “huh?”  I understood the metaphorical flying, but wasn’t sure what the author intended me to understand about the relationship.

Looking back through the book, I had a hard time choosing which stories to share.  There weren’t any that I didn’t like.  And I love having another book in my arsenal of diverse stories and authors.  Recommended for grades 4-8.

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