the way the crow flies

Posted by on Saturday, December 10th, 2005

the way the crow flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald.

MacDonald wrote another scorcher.  Set in Canada during the Cold War, the novel follows the family of  a Royal Canadian Air Force officer named Jack, who becomes wrapped up in military intelligence supporting the US in the space race.  The most engaging character in the novel is Madeline, the eight year old daughter of Jack and his Acadian wife Mimi.  We follow Madeline, her brother Mike, and the kids on living in Centralia, the Canadian airbase where their families are stationed.  The book is very well researched, veers from the local to the international and back again with great ease, and is a gorgeous read.  And it will break your heart.

And now I’m going to spoil something about the plot, because I wish I had known a bit more about what to expect.  The book jacket won’t tell you this.  So keep reading if you want the warning I wish I had had.

Movies warn you in advance if they contain violence, cursing, sex, or any of the other things that varying people find objectionable.  Books rarely do the same.  One of the major plot points of the novel is sexual abuse of children.  It can be  painfully shocking to have such subject matter come at you from left field in books and movies.  In this book, I initially assumed I was paranoid, and that the kids would be relatively safe.  As the abuse scenario unfolded, I was mortified.  And I was crippled with anger at the parents who failed to notice their children’s suffering and at the criminal who was changing these kids utterly.  MacDonald is a stellar writer, and her characters draw you into their minds.  So I was worrying about the kids whether I had the book open or not.   If that is going to be too difficult for you, don’t read the book. 

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