Book Title: Flight
Author: Vanessa Harbour
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
From Vanessa Harbour comes Flight, a middle-grade historical fiction novel about a Jewish boy and a Roma girl leading a group of horses across mountains to escape Nazis during WWII.
Everyone deserves to be free and feel safe, even horses.
The year is 1945 in Austria, where an SS officer and some of his men visit a stable, determined to find the Jewish boy they believe the owner is hiding there. Luckily, just as Jakob—the boy in question—is about to be found, the men are called away…but not before the SS officer shoots and kills Jakob’s favorite horse. It’s very clear then, to Jakob and his guardian, that they are no longer safe there. Traveling through Nazi territory with that many horses will be incredibly difficult and risky, but the alternative—staying—is even more dangerous.
After an orphaned Roma girl named Kizzy joins the pair, the three of them travel across woods and mountains in the hopes of finding safety. Along the way are life-threatening obstacles and an injury that could prove to be deadly.
Inspired by a real mission, this is a story of courage, adventure, friendship, and dancing horses.
Vanessa Harbour was born in Bromsgrove, England. She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester and also works as Editor and Academic & Business Consultant at the Golden Egg Academy. Flight is her first novel.
Flight is a powerful WWII debut told from the perspective of Jakob, a Jeweish boy taken in by a horse instructor. It’s a story that, at times, was dark and filled with uncertainty, but always provided a sense of hope.
I really enjoyed the journey aspect of this novel and how thought-provoking the whole premise is. Jakob is a great protagonist and a character I feel many will connect with, same with Kizzy. But importantly, at the heart of this story is courage and friendship. Those two aspects are so important to this story and the characters. Jakob and Kizzy’s friendship was the real joy of this novel and seeing these two characters, both with pasts full of hardships, create an unbreakable bond was amazing. It provided that much needed light in a world full of darkness. Well, and so did the horses!
I was surprised by how dark some scenes turned out to be. Not that I was expecting a light-hearted read, but some scenes took a turn I wasn’t expecting. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since it really grasps what times were like in WWII very well, but just a caution for some young readers expecting a light read. The darkness actually fit the story and plot well and really put into perspective what Jakob and Kizzy were going through to get to safety (and to also get the horses to safety).
Harbour’s writing was beautiful and brought this historical story to life. The writing is superb and truly brings to light how emotional those times were for children. I enjoyed Harbour’s description of this war-driven world and landscape and how it was easy, as the reader, to imagine these scenes in my head. Flight is easily a tale that will move every reader.
Overall, Harbour’s debut is powerful and full of potential. For readers looking for their next historical read, I definitely recommend Flight! Harbour is a children’s author to keep a close eye on!
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Check out the amazing bloggers on this book tour!
Enter to win one (1) finished copy of Flight by Vanessa Harbour! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.
Giveaway starts: Monday, March 15, 2021
Giveaway ends: Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST