Contemporary Fiction

Flying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown ★★★★

Piper Whitman is a stay-at-home mother devoted to raising her 9-year old son, Fred. When circumstances force her to face the reality that her son’s “quirkiness” may be something more, Piper has to come to terms with him being on the autism spectrum. Soon after, her emotionally abusive father suffers a debilitating heart attack that leaves him brain damaged, requiring care in her home for the unforseeable future.

Piper’s world seemed to have changed in an instant but the truth is her experiences as a child growing up with an emotionally cruel father shaped a lot of the decisions she made as an adult, including her overcompensation for her son and her communication issues with her husband. This could be anyone’s story and the author skillfully provides an insightful narrative that is at times highly relatable and vexing at others. Piper is the main voice with points of view provided at key moments from Fred and her father, Lance. While I learned a lot about higher functioning autistic behavior, that wasn’t the gist of the story. How Piper evolves is enlightening as she’s forced to do so when the father who raised her wasn’t the man she brought home to care. The bond that developed between him and her son created a chance for forgiveness and self awareness.

This is a tough, interesting and relevant story that I had to absorb in small bits. I experienced a range of emotions, often empathizing with Piper but also being highly annoyed with her behavior at times. She’s so very real, reacting true to character at all times. It doesn’t have the traditional perfect ending but it was perfect for the characters and the story. I’m glad I had the opportunity to read this book, one that was not on my radar and might not have selected on my own. It changed my thinking in so many ways.

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(I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review)

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