When Elephants Fly
Author: Nancy Richardson Fischer
Publication Date: September 4th, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Synopsis: There are some battles worth fighting even if it means losing yourself.
T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she’s not developing schizophrenia.Genetics are not on Lily’s side.
When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily’s odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there’s a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests.
But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can’t abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.
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Praise for WHEN ELEPHANTS FLY
“Nancy Richardson Fischer has managed to combine so many important topics-family, mental illness, extinction, animal welfare, and adolescence-into an accessible, moving and extraordinary story.” ―Ellen C. O’Connell, Executive Vice President, Global, Space for Giants
“This book was an absolute pleasure to read. I encourage everyone to read this inspirational book and discuss mental illness and tolerance and the need to improve wildlife protection.” ―Katie Rowe, Pritzker Genius Award nominee, Co-founder Reteti Elephant Sanctuary
“This moving coming-of-age adventure story is a captivating page-turner that crescendos to a valiant and surprisingly delightful conclusion filled with hope for both humans and elephants.” ―Patricia Sims, Filmmaker, When Elephants Were Young. Founder, World Elephant Day
“When Elephants Fly is a compelling read, beautifully threading the complex relationship between mothers and daughters, mental illness and elephants.” ―National Book Award finalist Carrie Arcos
“Not only does this book show the reader the perils of keeping elephants in zoos and having them perform in circuses, it does it with heart, grace, and imagination.” ―Nina Berry, author of The Notorious Pagan Jones and the Otherkinseries
“Unlike anything I’ve read before in YA, When Elephants Fly is both a fascinating adventure and a stirring coming-of-age novel. There are few clear heroes or villains, and no easy answers for Lily as she moves into an uncertain future. The bond between elephant and girl is deftly wrought-reminiscent of Alec and the Black in Walter Farley’s classic, The Black Stallion, but for an older, contemporary audience.” ―Sara Zarr, author of Gem & Dixie
I really love a good, heartfelt contemporary and I feel that When Elephants Fly really delivered in that aspect. There was a lot of deep stuff going on in this book, while at the same time it was able to remain a bit light and fun, making me smile and feel all kinds of emotions along with the main character.
T. Lily Decker has had a relatively difficult life so far. Her mother tried to kill her because she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and she is terrified that she will develop the condition, so she has her best friend constantly try and give her little tests to be sure that she isn’t developing it. She doesn’t want to have to live life like her mother, but at the same time, she wants to be sure she catches it early enough if it starts to develop.
Along with that, T. Lily Decker is dealing with other stuff, as well, including seeing a mother elephant almost kill her baby calf. She has to watch over the baby calf and keep working on the story for the newspaper, and it brings her to realize many things about her own life.
I really loved T. Lily Decker’s character. She has been through so much, yet she remains strong and diligent through all of it, including facing something she is terrified of developing, like her mother did. She is such a great character and easy to connect to, and it’s so inspiring watching her story unfold the way that it does.
The plot of the book is original, and I really loved reading it. It was the kind of plot that I was able to stay interested in with ease. I flew right through this book, getting lost in the story and the characters, reading it all over the span of a weekend. This book was so amazing, and I can’t give it enough praise. I think it might be one of the most touching and heartfelt contemporaries that I have picked up lately.
If you are looking for something that is engaging and will keep you interested throughout until the very last page, this is a great book to pick up. I really like elephants and I found that having them in the story also made it more interesting, as well at the fact of what the elephants’ situation felt like to the main character – it added a layer of depth.
I have to recommend this one to fans of contemporaries, because When Elephants Fly is simply amazing!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
I was born on the east coast and went to Cornell University. After college I worked as a writer for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. It was a fun first job and I learned how to write quickly, and also that when elephants sneeze on you it’s very (VERY) messy. After a year in the circus, I moved out west. I lived in Aspen, Colorado where I skied as much as possible and worked as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant. Great experience but I learned that waitressing is hard (HARD) and I’m not very good at it.
After Aspen, I moved to San Francisco, California where I worked as a writer for University of California, San Francisco and wrote freelance for LucasFilm. At UCSF I learned that sitting in a cubicle under fluorescent lights dulls my soul. LucasFilm taught me that writing freelance, especially fiction, is fun (FUN). So I headed to graduate school in Boulder, Colorado to further hone my skills.
For the first part of my freelance writing career I wrote sport autobiographies. I’d visit and travel with an athlete like Monica Seles, Bela Karolyi, Nadia Comaneci or Apolo Ohno and then write their book. It was a terrific job, but after ten years and tons of incredible experiences I got tired of writing other peoples’ stories and not my own.
Today I live in the Pacific Northwest with my amazing husband, Henry, and our mostly loveable (but sometimes vorpal) Vizsla, Boone. When I’m not conjuring a story, I love to kite-board, bike, ski or plan adventures with Boone and Henry, who both make me laugh for different reasons and who are the best partners in fun a gal could ever imagine.
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The cartoon character that best describes me is Speedy Gonzales.
Great post! I’ve been seeing this book pop-up a lot recently and I’m glad that you enjoyed it. I don’t read a lot of contemporary books but maybe I’ll check this one out!
Thanks for sharing,
~Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles
Great review. It sounds really powerful.
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