Flying by Megan Hart
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Ms. Hart is a mistress of tormented contemporary romance. In this one, even if there is a bit of sex, the focus isn't on an erotic smoking hawt romance. Instead, it's a chronicle of broken people trying hard to patch themselves up. Stella is a sexually free woman. She flies to whatever city with a direct flight from Pennsylvania. She finds a guy at the bar, lets him pick her up and then she tops it off with a little one-night stand. It's not exactly a game for her. It's more of a way to escape from her pain.
From the start of this story, I'm trying to understand Stella. She's sexually liberated which I like. There is no slut shaming which is good. What is confusing is why Stella is a one-night stand addict. The life she lives on her getaway weekends compared to her life through the weekdays is night and day. During the week, she shares custody of her son with her ex-husband. She works a job which is rather mundane. On weekends, she flings herself onto the cock of a new man and then takes the next flight out without a goodbye.
As Ms. Hart pulls back the layers on Stella, each new reveal is painful because it exposes all the disappointments and pain in her life. From a character perspective, this story very well crafted. Stella and Matthew are both broken people who try to get through life. They haven't moved on from the trauma which is now defining them. The way these characters behave is painful to watch and at times, one really wants to smack them upside the head. There is a reason to their madness. The reasons are quite depressing. Ms. Hart really knows how to pull the heart strings in this one.
While the story spends a good amount of time on meaningless sexual hook ups and a rocky romance, the underlying message is a bit more subtle. For me, it is about how people rebuild themselves when their whole world crumbs. Can they put it all back together again or will this be a prolonged slow death? The conflicts and situations which arise are well written and completely believable. The miscommunications here are not contrived to cause a conflict between two characters. Instead, the purposeful lack of communication packs a powerful punch when the reader realizes why it's such a painful point for Stella. The way the anger manifests and expresses itself may not be the best way. At least it doesn't stay under the surface, festering and becoming worse. This is what I liked most about Stella. She spoke her mind and didn't play games. She didn't sugarcoat when she was placed into situations where in the eyes of society, she could have or should have placated the male to smooth his hurt feelings. This refreshing attitude makes me smile because it frees a woman from the shackles of societal dictation that women should put their needs always behind others.
I think this is what really pulled me into the book. Stella no longer puts a man before her desires. Nor does she relegate her needs as secondary to her son's. Because when it comes down to it, looking at the males in her life, ex-husband, son, lover, male friend, none of them put her first. Yet they all expect her to be there for them. If they looked out for her first, then I'd have no issues. Their lack of reciprocation until near the end when they realize how she's been there for them in the past, is sad and all too familiar. This contemporary novel is for those who have tragically lost a loved one and want to believe tomorrow will be a better day.
*provided by NetGalley
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