As the Adler family proceeds to boarding for the flight to LA from NY, Jordan, Eddie’s brother, creates a scene. Feeling empowered by his newfound sense of being an almost-adult, he refuses to walk through the security scanner, holding up the line just enough to inspire annoyance in his parents. The others on the plane have taken notice as well, but proceed to contemplate their own lives, as one does on the “time out” that a flight offers. As the story progresses, and we learn about many of the colorful people on the flight, we also learn how it tragically ends – and how the lone survivor learns to cope.
In this surprisingly moving story, the author deftly captures the mental paralysis, the constant feeling of being under water, that trauma can instill. Edward, the teenager who survives, teeters on the verge of falling apart, but is held together by his aunt and uncle and his dear friend next door. And while this might sound bleak, the story is kindly balanced with the lighter stories of the various passengers of the imperiled flight.
The writing is quite poignant. While there are a few moments that are a little unrealistic, we are drawn to Edward and suffer along with him. But we also drawn to the kind folks who surround and bolster him as he muddles through. I found myself particularly liking his principal, who, rather than forcing Edward to talk about what was going on inside, just allows Edward to come into his office and help him care for his treasured ferns. In this quiet, kind act, he offers Edward an island of peace where he can escape the noise of the school he attends. It is a place where Edward can just be, and not be alone, but just be. Sometimes this is the most generous and sensitive way in which we can support someone who is in pain. It is not always easy to do, but it might be the kindest path.
I found myself very choked up by the end of the story, as Edward seems to find his way. I suspect you will be too.