A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A glimpse of life on Death Row.
Violence and revenge are never the answer. You can overcome and move beyond your circumstances, but only if you make wise choices.
Positive Role Models
While Luke has a hot temper and makes terrible, life-shattering decisions, he also behaves in ways that make readers see what might have been. He's a loyal protective friend to Toby and lovingly cares for his two little brothers -- playing with them, making sure they have food to eat, getting them dressed and ready for school, all without any resentment.
Violence & Scariness
Murder committed by Luke and one by a fellow Death Row inmate are not described in any detail. Toby's father beats him (one instance is vividly related) and has a history of abusive behavior toward his son. Bar fights, a fistfight in high school.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Both Luke and Toby have first sexual experiences, but readers are given only a few very brief details of the encounters.
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A lot of profanity: "f--k," "a--hole," "s--t," "goddamn," hell." Toby likes to refer to things as being "a d--k hair away."
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Products & Purchases
Characters drink Mountain Dew, eat at the Olive Garden, listen to Elvis and Waylon Jennings. Luke's mother works at a Pepsi plant and Toby drives an El Camino.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Toby's father is an alcoholic, and Luke's mother regularly abuses alcohol. Adults smoke and drink, some scenes take place at a bar. Toby gets so drunk he throws up.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bryan Bliss' novel We'll Fly Away is the story of Luke and Toby, two high school seniors trying to move beyond their neglectful and abusive family lives, only to find themselves making decisions that will end in tragedy. Best friends since childhood, they have big plans for the future. Luke has a wresting scholarship, and Toby plans to come along to study at the same university. But all those hopes are dashed when Luke is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The story unfolds in alternating chapters: Luke's letters from prison to Toby and a third-person account of the months that led up to the murders. Toby's world is often violent (a beating by his father is vividly related), and the details of several murders are noted rather than described. Both boys have first sexual encounters that are briefly glimpsed, and profanity is used often and casually ("f--k," "a--hole," "s--t," "goddamn," "hell"). This is a realistic, often grim story that may be tough for some readers, but the content opens wide a door for parents to have serious discussions with teens about life-altering choices.
Is It Any Good?
A compelling, fast-paced, and gut-wrenching story about loyalty, abuse, first love, and revenge that comes to an unexpected and devastating conclusion. Many readers of We'll Fly Away may find their hearts going out to Luke and Toby, who face such tough odds simply trying to finish high school and begin new lives.
Parents and teens may want to talk about where to place accountability for the tragic events in the novel. How much are Luke and Toby to blame for the choices they make and how much of what happens to them might be the result of coming from abusive and neglectful families?
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.