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Crescent Blues Book ViewsCricket Books (Hardcover), ISBN No. 0-8126-2671-0
A short, character-driven flight to another time (1937) and place, Flying Lessons leaves the reader in good, if not colorful, company. The journey follows in the footsteps of 13-year-old LaMarr Conroy, lover of airplanes and flight, as she embarks a bus heading for South Carolina. LaMarr travels alone, but carries a suitcase, filled with makeup and costumes that belonged to her mother Charmaine (born Virtue Conroy). Unlike her mother's friends, who suspect Charmaine died in a plane crash, LaMarr believes her mother ran off to Hollywood. Certain Charmaine will return once she achieves stardom, LaMarr holds the hope that her days in the South are numbered.

Book: Kezi Matthews, Flying Lessons
LaMarr arrives in Charmaine's hometown to find the ripples Charmaine left behind never subsided. Uncle Vital Conroy wants to make amends to his departed sister by taking in LaMarr, but Aunt Millie seems less than thrilled. After being on the road with her mother and Big Al's traveling circus, LaMarr finds it hard to settle into this new life. Little else of her old world exists except for her Amelia Earhart magazines. LaMarr encounters strange friendships in unlikely places -- a funny-looking homeless boy with spooky green eyes, a disabled man (George) who writes pulp fiction and, sometimes, the sharp-tongued maid, Japonica. As LaMarr attempts to live under the cloud of her mother's disappearance, the world shakes around her. The Hindenburg suffers a fiery end and LaMarr's idol, Amelia Earhart, disappears forever from the world's radar.

With the help of painful reality, George's quiet wisdom and Japonica's Conroy family histories, LaMarr begins a journey through loss on a pathway to healing. In the small southern town, she uncovers the secret of her name and the circumstances of her birth and father.

LaMarr Conroy's difficult path toward coming to terms and coming of age offers the readers glaring insight to people, places and self. The tragic disappearances of Charmaine and Amelia grip the reader and won't let go. The open-ended conclusion reinforces the power of the parallels, leaving the reader filled with hope and wonder.

In her third novel of absent parents, loss and healing, Kezi Matthews' talent soars!

Lynne Remick

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