In her new novel Fly Away, talented author Kristin Hannah revisits best friends Tully and Kate from her 2008 novel Firefly Lane. The book is set 30 years later and deals with the aftermath of death and the inevitable feelings of depression and grief associated with this.
At the beginning of the novel we learn Kate died of cancer four years previously and those around her are struggling to accept and cope with their loss. Tully in particular, after experiencing a difficult childhood, regards Kate as not only her best friend but as the only person who has ever cared about her. Tully feels pressured as she promised a dying Kate that she would look after her three children as if there were her own. This becomes increasingly difficult as Kate’s husband Johnny is overwhelmed by his own grief and decides to make a new start by moving his family hundreds of miles away. He also attempts to cut all ties with his wife’s best friend as he resents the freedom she gives Marah, his teenage daughter. Marah doesn’t know how to cope with the loss of her mother and is on a downward spiral of unemployment and self-harming. As Tully suffers, she tries to ease her pain through substance abuse.
Hannah has created an emotional, heart-wrenching novel highlighting the tragic divisions created after the death of someone whom so many people are dependent upon. In this clever book, the woman who connects all the characters has left them alone with no way of reaching out to each other. Most of Fly Away is told through flashbacks, although these become quite difficult to follow, as the drama intensifies.
Although there is a huge amount of character development and the ending creates new hope for the future for each of the characters, the book is predominantly consumed by angst and despair and is by no means an easy read. It reminds us of the struggles of grief even after four difficult years.