ARC Review: When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer


Title: When Elephants Fly
Author: Nancy Richardson Fischer
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 400 Pages
Published September 2018



Summary: Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she's not developing schizophrenia.Genetics are not on Lily's side.  When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily's odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there's a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests. But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can't abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf's life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.


I received an advanced copy of When Elephants Fly at BookCon this year, and I wasn't sure what to think at first, because I hadn't heard about it. However, I'm so glad that I finally made the decision to pick it up, because this book brought me on an emotional rollercoaster that I wasn't expecting, and I ended up really enjoying it -- and recommending it to all of my friends!

As the summary explains, T. Lily Decker is a budding journalist, but she's also trying to live her life with as little risk as possible. Ever since her mom's schizophrenia got bad and she tried to kill her as a child, Lily has always been terrified that she was going to get sick next, so she took every effort to avoid it -- even though she knew she couldn't escape the chance of illness that was embedded in her genes. But she ends up getting tangled up in a baby elephant calf at a local zoo that got rejected by her mother -- Swifty. And now Swifty's life is in danger, and Lily knows she has to do something -- even if that requires stepping out of the protective bubble that she's encased herself in for so long.

What I loved about this book was how emotional it was. The book is a hard-hitter from the very beginning, jumping right into the terrible things that Lily had to experience with her schizophrenic mother as a child. So in the beginning, the book definitely seems really dark and intense. And then Swifty comes around, and she's so freaking adorable that you can't help but smiling every time she's on the page. But then her life is in danger, and the book takes on a much more intense, urgent tone, and suddenly you find yourself unable to stop reading, no matter how late it's gotten and no matter how many classes you have the next day. (Yup, yup, that was definitely me.)

This book also deals heavily with mental illness and also with animal conservation efforts, both which are incredibly important topics that I really enjoyed being able to read and learn more about. It's clear that Nancy Richardson Fischer did her research in this book, because there's a lot of helpful detail without being too overloaded with jargon. You really learn a lot in both areas, and it was really informative and helpful for me as a reader who hasn't had any experience with anyone in my life having schizophrenia, and also as someone who doesn't know a whole lot about wildlife conversation. You definitely learn a lot in this book, for sure!

My favorite character in this book was definitely Swifty. She was so adorable and funny, and my heart broke for her when she was in trouble. She was pretty much like a big baby that loved Lily so much, and it definitely showed during all of their interactions. Every time she was on the page, I found myself grinning from ear to ear because she was being so cute. It made me want to head to the nearest zoo and see the elephants ASAP! I always knew that elephants were highly intelligent creatures, but this book showcased their intelligence on a whole new level...wow.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading When Elephants Fly. I wasn't sure what to expect when I first picked it up, but I ended up finding a heartwarming, emotional, gripping story that I'll definitely be recommending for months to come. This book touched my heart in ways I never expected, and I hope that it will touch yours too -- so make sure to pick up a copy when you get a chance, since it's out now!



1 comment

  1. Great review! I've been wary about picking up this book because I don't want to read a bad rep of schizophrenia, I may have to check it out from the lib soon though.

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