Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on In Hovering Flight.
I never did understand certain people’s fascination with birds. Sure, the fact that they’re supposedly the descendants of dinosaurs intrigued me, but that was about the extent of my interest. Then I read Joyce Hinnefeld’s In Hovering Flight and I was converted. Hinnefeld’s luscious descriptions of these winged creatures, their songs, and their habitats were more than enough to make me regard even the most common pigeons and the most raucous gulls with awe. But In Hovering Flight is not simply a book about birds or even a book about a woman’s love of birds. It is a story about friendships, love, loss, and understanding.
Scarlet Kavanagh is a thirty-something single woman who makes a final, painful visit to see her parents before her mother, Addie, dies. Scarlet, like almost all daughters, has alternately loved and hated her mother, but in the end she must come to terms with Addie’s eccentricities before she can finally say goodbye.
Addie has decided to spend her last days at her dear friend Cora’s house, surrounded by the people closest to her. Lou and Cora, Addie’s friends from college, Scarlet, and Tom, Addie’s adoring husband, quietly reminisce about the how they met and came to love Addie despite her stubborn and sometimes indignant sense of righteousness. As they reminisce, each character’s joys and sorrows, triumphs and missteps in their own lives are revealed, and the reader cannot help but sympathize with each.
Hinnefeld’s characters are so genuinely and sincerely written that each one seems like a treasured friend by the end of the novel – a friend one cannot bear to part with. I felt a sort of sadness closing the book for the last time, knowing that it meant the end of my journey with these characters. The imagery of the woods in Pennsylvania and the coast in Maine are equally well-written and evoke a similar sense of familiarity in the reader by the end, as if he or she, too, had spent a lifetime of winters in Burnham and summers in Cider Cove, as Scarlet had. Hinnefeld’s language is luxurious and indulgent, but never overbearing. She cajoles her readers to take their time - to dwell for a while on each page, each paragraph, each sentence, soaking up the abundance of sensory details she provides.
In a world of minute messages and bare-bones dialogue, Hinnefeld’s lingering sentences give readers time to breathe, time to really enjoy reading – and the wonders of nature - again.