Cover Image: Fly Like a Bird

Fly Like a Bird

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A slow burning coming-of-age tale of small town life, love, family, community, and of course with most small towns, secrets. Ivy is a relatable character and you come to know all the people in this story.
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I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. 
After a tragic accident kills her parents, Ivy is raised by her grandmother Violet in the small farming town of Coffey, Iowa. This close-knit community all have a hand in raising young Ivy...and keeping secrets about that night that left her an orphan. As she grows up and sees her friends leaving town for exciting destinations and never returning,  she longs for her own chance to escape small town life.  But family obligations keep holding her back, and the older she gets the more she realizes that Coffey is where she belongs.
When I started this book, there were so many characters to keep track of, but as the story progressed and the individual characters were described, they became more real to me making the story richer. Coffey was described as a warm community-- between Uncle Walter's trailer with his eclectic collection of cookie jars and lawn ornaments, Edna Jean's obsessively clean library, and the Coffey shop, where Shirley welcomes you with a smile and a warm piece of pie-- it really starts to feel like home. Thank you so much for the chance to read this book!
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I love family stories, especially about grandparents. And this is a good one. Ivy has lived with her grandmother for as long as she can remember, ever since her parents were tragically killed. Theirs is a small town in the 70s, rife with racism and prejudice and suspicion and secrets. Seems like everyone knows those secrets except for Ivy. The older she gets, the more driven she becomes to find out the truth about what really happened that night so very long ago.
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It was really hard to get into this book.  There were a lot of characters and the pace was slow.  Great topics explored but I couldn't get attached to the many characters.
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I pride myself on my accelerated reading skills, but sadly this book took me nearly a month to finish. The tepid pace in the beginning almost made this become a DNF (do not finish), and then I took a break to finish reading other books I placed a priority on, and as I was finishing it today I still skimmed the last remaining chapters. ⁣⁣⁣
Ivy Taylor is a young girl growing up in a small town in Iowa. After the death of her parents, Ivy is raised by her grandparents. But Ivy soon discovers that her town is filled with secrets, and even some related to the night her parents died. ⁣Fair warning: in between all the overly sweet life lessons & platitudes are segments involving racism, domestic abuse, and animal abuse. ⁣⁣
The author is very passionate about the state of Iowa, and it shows on the pages. But that also became a slight annoyance of mine, especially when sentences were made redundant with phrases such as “the Iowa sky”, “those Iowa fields”, “Iowa storms rolling in across the Iowa prairie” instead of just being described with a different synonym or just as they are. There was also quite the cast of characters and it was difficult keeping up with all of them at times, especially when they would all come together in a scene, which was often. There are some characters that stand on their own and have depth, but others came across as too cartoonish and seemed like something from a TV show, especially the dialogue from the story’s male villains. There is also a rescue mission towards the end of the book involving nearly the entire town’s residents that had me rolling my eyes in disbelief
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Fly Like a Bird is a sad, sweet coming of age novel about Ivy, a white girl in late 1950s-early 1980s Iowa. Ivy has lived with her grandmother since her parents died in a car crash. She wants to do two things: learn more about her parents and leave her small town. However, it feels like all the adults are keeping important secrets from her. It doesn't help that her uncles have been feuding, allegedly over a pastrami sandwich, since her parents' funeral.

Ivy grows into a kind but willful young woman with a strong passion for justice and a burning desire to do the right thing. She is an appealing protagonist. Sometimes she becomes mired in self-pity, but it's understandable. Practically every resident of the town of Coffey, Iowa makes an appearance in Jana Zinser's novel. All of them are at least a little quirky; some are downright evil or have untreated mental illnesses. This makes things a bit confusing at times. It takes a bit of close attention to keep everyone straight. Despite changes in the law, Coffey remains racially segregated in practice. Ivy doesn't think that's fair. She wants to visit with her best friend, a black girl. This brings her places where some of the other white people in town (and some of the black people as well) don't want her to go.

Zinser pops in on Ivy, her family, and her friends at certain points in Ivy's life: when she's a small girl, a 12-year-old, a high school senior, etc. She focuses on key anecdotes that will come into play later in the novel. It's an interesting format that keeps the novel from sagging. Of course, Ivy manages to tease some secrets out.

This is not a classic, but it is a good-hearted stopover in a small town. If that's what you're looking for,  you can do much worse than visit Coffey, Iowa and get to know its residents.

Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review of this novel.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the characters were people I wanted to know, or smack as the case may be.  It started a bit slow for me, and the narration took me a bit to gel with... but once I did it was off and running and I really connected with this book.  I found it hard to put down.  It resolved too quickly and perfectly in my opinion, and that felt rushed... I would have liked a cliff hanger and a follow up book... it was THAT enjoyable.  I will definitely read more from this author and would recommend this book highly.
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I received a free electronic copy of this historical novel from Netgalley, Jana Zinser, and BQB Publishing.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.  I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.  I am pleased to recommend this noir-style Iowa historical to friends and family.  It is an interesting read, telling tales of what it takes to make -or break- a family.

Time moves on from a brief stop in 1959 on to 1966 through 1986 in the town of Coffey, Iowa, a wide spot in the road.  We watch as Ivy is orphaned while still a babe-in-arms and is raised by her paternal grandmother.  Violet Taylor is the mother of three sons - Walter is a postman and single, Tommy is married to Hattie with two children, Angela who left Coffey at 17 and never returned, and Russell, who is undiagnosed autistic. Tommy works at the Coffey Sewage plant, drinks a bit too much and bowls and does mischief with his best friend Ruben Smith.  Ruben Smith is a farmer, childless, married to Patty, who eats away her angst and won't leave her house. Violet's youngest son Bobby was killed in a car wreck in 1959 when his new blood-red Pontiac lost grip on black ice and was creamed by a semi.  With the absence of Bobby and his wife Barbara, their daughter Ivy was raised in the white Victorian at 4120 Meadowlark Lane by Violet.  

Charlie Carter is the local law, bought and paid for by Coffey's only bank manager and Mayor, Conrad Thrasher. The mayor's son Weston is 'that kid' who shoots cats and acts without conscious most of the time. The diner is peopled by some sweet ladies, the librarian in legally blind, and the black barber and beauty shop is open only on Saturday in Pinky's living room.  The white barber left town years ago as did the beauty shop lady. The black community is confined to Mulberry Street, which parallels the train track, by hook and by crook - a black person can only get a bank loan on Mulberry Street houses. Ivy's best friend Maggie Norton, daughter of Otis and Pinky lives on Mulberry Street.   Otis works maintenance at the local college, and Pinky does the hair of the back community and makes awesome pieced quilts.  This may seem like too much cast for our story, but they are each very much necessary. This is an excellent picture of growth by generation, a lesson we must all learn.  

Fly Like a Bird is a coming of age tale, following not only Ivy but also Shirley's sons Ben and Justin, Weston Thrasher, the lawyer's son Nick Jerome, Jesse Marshal, son of the new white beauty shop owner, and Ivy's best friend Maggie Norton. 

We tend to think of blatant racism as a strictly southern problem during these turbulent years of the '60s, '70s, and '80s.  Not so - all of us Americans are slow learners, I have found.  Fly Like a Bird is a message of hope that racism will end - hopefully in our lifetime but certainly in that of our children.
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This was a great read!  The author really dived deep into topics of racism, domestic violence, sexuality and the impact of family secrets via a young girl that loses her parents.  This was well written and an enjoyable read.
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I really struggled with this book, I couldn't seem to get myself attached, no matter how much I tried. There was too many characters and i kept losing track with what i was reading because i didn't have any interest. 

Thank you NetGalley for this advanced copy in return for my honest review
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This was a good coming of age story. There were a lot of characters which made it a little hard to follow initially, but overall it was good. I liked the plot and the small town setting along with the era of time. 
Many thanks to BQB Publishing and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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A small-town family drama stretching from the 1950s through the 1980s, with all kinds of secrets. Wonderful description of Iowa country living and the racial realities of that time and place. An example: "The early evening arrived sullen and moist, ushering in the period of the day when time slows down, and the earth relaxes." 
Not only does the protagonist grow through the course of the novel, so do most of the supporting characters, creating thick layers of story that make it an engaging read. While this is strong women's fiction throughout, focusing on the development of the female protagonist, the last few paragraphs offer a deux ex machina happily-ever-after ending. That could have been handled much better, but the book is still a good read.
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Thanks to NetGalley for this advanced copy to review.

This is a coming to age story about a girl, Ivy, who is left orphaned after the mysterious deaths of her parents. Her grandmother raises her and she is close to her extended family (which they will not go into detail about certain things about her parents).

There are actually quite a few characters in this which can get a little confusing but I liked that most of them grow in different way. I loved the character development.

Overall I thought it was a good read. Brings up issues with sexuality, race, domestic violence and family secrets/conflicts.

4/5 stars
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The main character Ivy Taylor has been raised all her life by her grandmother, Violet. As Ivy grows up we learn about her extended family (2 Uncles and 2 cousins) her friends and the relationship she has with her grandmother.

They live in a small town in Iowa called Coffey. The timeline of the book covers 1959 – 1986.

As Ivy grows she learns her grandmother might be keeping some secrets about what happened to her parents.

The author does not dwell on the every day ins and outs of life in a small town. The author also ties up all story lines of the many characters, which I liked.

I would say this book is a coming of age tale as well as a mystery. There are some scenes of domestic violence and discussion of murder. It was all within context of the story so it wasn’t much of an issue.

I also think this book could have had a little more romance in it.

All in all a good read and I give it 4/5 stars.
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Received a copy of this book through NetGalley .
Interesting storyline,and a good story to follow the downside was that there were to many characters introduced,which at time was difficult to follow trying to relate to all of them but once over this,the story was interesting and showed the human spirit at its best and worst.
  The only thing that I did not like was at the end of the story and the sudden appearance of Nick,as if his character was forgotten and then suddenly remembered at the end more should have been written about him,so this left the story a bit flat.All in all once  past the many characters the plot was interesting and well written.
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I really struggled with this book.  It was hard to get into.  There were so many characters and I just felt overwhelmed reading it.  

Thank you NetGalley for thw opportunity to read this jn exchange for my honest review.
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It was just good for me. Started out slow. So many people. 
Thanks, NetGalley for the advance copy to review.
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