Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain

From TheBookbag
Jump to navigationJump to search

Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain

Buy Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain at or

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Mary Waterfall
Reviewed by Mary Waterfall
Summary: I loved reading this book, an exploration of love and relationships in all their varied forms. A journey through the issues many young people will experience, but told with a touch of humour, light-heartedness and understanding. Wrapping this up in a fascinating tale of circus past and present is ingenious. When the going gets tough, how many people joke about running away to the circus, but where can you run, if you already live with the circus?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: March 2018
Publisher: Walker Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1406375657

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn

Flying Tips for Flightless Birds is a quirky and complex story, told with an elegant simplicity that hooks you from the first few pages. A gentle but gripping exploration of the highs and lows of being a young person, of love, friends and the relationship we have with ourselves and others.

Finch and Birdie are twins, their lives revolving around their Trapeze act and the family circus school. Their lives take a different path, as they try to make sense of who they are, and what they want to be.

Through the eyes of Finch and Birdie, we explore how being an outsider, different tfrom the pack, can be a strength, particularly if you have a supportive family, but also how the critical voice in our own heads can be more poisonous than any bully. The writer is adept at taking us through the thought processes of how sometimes, in order to survive, we push everyone away, perhaps even relish being outside the popular group. How we become really, really good at being odd, but still don't manage to be ourselves. What I particularly enjoyed was how she also manages to explore the flip side, when we cut off our wings because they make us different, shutting away our thoughts, becoming like everyone else. The title perhaps has a deeper meaning if being flightless is the same as conforming.

We get to know Birdie in an unusual way, through her blog, weaving engaging descriptions of circus skills, tales and people, with sometimes dark historical accounts of her ancestor's lives. Underneath the story line is an uplifting message, written with such wit. If we live our lives by the expectations of others, then we will be unhappy, and the really sad thing, the tragic thing, is that we often set those expectations ourselves for fear of being hurt or of hurting others.

The writing is vibrant, funny, moving and thought provoking. The characters are all written with depth so that you care what happens to all of them, both friends and enemies alike. Lou is a shining example of what living life to your own expectations looks like, her eccentricity and self-belief,cutting through the angst others feel. Hector, an important character in his own right, is the perfect mirror for both Finch, who is forced to examine the changes in his life and how he feels about them, and for Birdie, their friendship shedding light on her motivations. The adults within the story are depicted in a few skilfully written lines, so you quickly know which ones are supportive and which ones will create problems, allowing them to take centre stage when necessary, without them taking over the story.

I look forward to future works from the writer.

Fans of this story may enjoy Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley and The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson.

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.