Flying Tips for Flightless Birds
Set in Northern Ireland, Kelly McCaughrain’s début novel is a charming and quirky love story with important things to say about identity and belonging. Finch ‘Franconi’ Sullivan, along with his twin sister Birdie, is half of the star trapeze act in his parents’ circus. When he’s not in the air, Finch is either being bullied or trying to avoid making friends with Hector, the clumsy new boy in school who trades maths tutoring for juggling lessons.
As Franconi’s Circus faces closure, and a serious accident befalls his sister, Finch has to team up with Hector to save his family’s business and legacy. Finch and Hector’s love story is interspersed with posts from Birdie’s blog, which gives a pleasing depth and history to the world of the circus and of the Franconi family. Though the story is told from Finch’s perspective, Birdie and Hector also grapple with serious issues about what they want from their present and their future. The challenges of being different in a small community are explored, but Hector, a recent arrival from Belfast, brings a perspective of his own. A little suspension of disbelief is needed in parts, but the carnival setting of the circus makes this an easy task. A positive, affirming read for anyone who has ever felt like a bit of a clown.