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Parents' Guide to

Why We Fly

By Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Important story of teen activism starts strong but fizzles.

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This story of Black and White best friends working through issues related to racism, social justice, and privilege has some great messages but falls flat in the end. In Why We Fly, authors Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal try to tackle a little too much in one story, including friendship, romance, family dynamics, pressure to achieve, racism, activism, and drug use. The result is that some important topics and interesting plot tensions get hurried and unsatisfying resolutions. The book does a great job of showing what effective activism looks like and how people need to think through the possible consequences of their actions. It also provides an accurate look at the bittersweet nature of high-school friendships as graduation and diverging post-graduation paths loom. But the friendship between Leni and Nelly never rings true, and the characters themselves are one-dimensional and hard to root for. Much of the dialogue feels forced and isn't authentic to the ways teens talk. Why We Fly is a worthwhile read and will get kids thinking over some important issues, but the overall execution is lacking.

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