This Bird Flew Away
Author: Lynda M. Martin
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: Black Rose Writing (January 27th, 2011)
Age Recommendation: 14+ for Mature Themes & Sexual Assault
Format: Trade Paperback & eBook
ISBN 13: 978-1935605928
Number of pages: 312
What is real love?
The whole world wants to know…
They should ask Bria Jean, because she has it all figured out. Opinionated, stubborn and full of woe, Bria would tell you real love is having one person you can always count on through thick and thin. For her, that’s Jack. And it doesn’t matter to her that she’s nine and he’s twenty-three — not one bit.
When, at the age of twelve, Bria disappears, Jack and his Aunt Mary search for her, and when she surfaces, injured, abused and traumatized, he fights to become her guardian with no idea of the trials ahead of him. By then, Bria is thirteen going on thirty, full of her own ideas on how her life should run and with some very fixed notions about who is in charge.
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WINNER - DARLENE
My Rating: 5 Stars
The story of a young girl’s travails and journey to adulthood is warmly conveyed through alternating voices and POV of the girl, Bria and her aunt, Mary. I frankly, became immersed in Bria’s young life right from the start. This is one of those special books that occasionally comes along that just wraps one up in its warmth – cocooning and insulating the reader within its own special world and boundaries.
Bria’s story is one of triumph over the evil that people can inflict on others – sometimes intentionally, sometimes thoughtlessly. It also examines the people around us in life. For all the suffering that Bria endured, she was also fortunate because there were a few steadfast people close to her to love her; even as bull-headed and contrary as she sometimes could be. But then again, it is those very qualities that gave her the strength and determination to prevail and to overcome obstacles she encountered in her young life.
This is a tale told with warmth and candor, but one that also unflinchingly examines some ugly truths about the society in which we live. Ugliness that is not confined to the lower echelons but rather permeates the fabric of life and festers malignantly all around us, for the most part unseen, or at least unacknowledged. It is so much easier to remain blind to that which we may feel powerless to change or conquer.
In my opinion, Bria is fortunate to have Jack as her rock in her young life. Thirteen years older than Bria, he babysat her, fought for her, and was her anchor. Jack, an honorable man, helped Bria and stood by her during the most difficult times. He, along with Mary, became, in essence, Bria’s surrogate parents – but more, too. This story is one that will remain with me for a good, long while. There are many nuances to it that I find myself thinking about at odd moments. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to read this book and I am looking forward to the next installment of Bria’s fascinating life.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
Meet Jack Connelly – an interview with author Lynda M Martin
LM: Hi, Jack and thanks for agreeing to this interview.
Jack: Thank you for asking, and allow me to say it’s nice to finally have a voice. In our book, This Bird Flew Away, only Bria and Mary tell the story and let me tell you, what they think they know about me is not always the truth. For instance --
LM: Sorry for interrupting, but we need to be careful we don’t give away too much of the story. Otherwise, who’ll buy the book? So how about I ask the questions and you confine yourself to the narrowest of answers?
Jack: I don’t know…There are some points I want to clear up, important issues, things troubling me. Can’t we just cut to the chase and get to the real issues?
LM: (Sigh) I assume you’re referring to some readers who objected to your relationship with a girl thirteen years younger than yourself.
Jack: Precisely. In this age, people view any friendship between a man and a girl as suspicious. Did you know a recent poll in England found that 83% of men would not speak to a young girl, even if she clearly needed help?
LM: You’d hardly be speaking of it if I didn’t.
Jack: No need to get all high-and-mighty. I’m well aware I’m a figment of your imagination. I should sue you. I object to your writing me in such a way that readers think I might be a child molester.
LM: Well, you did act like one, taking the little girl off to the park like that, working so hard to gain her trust, playing on her need for attention and affection.
Jack: Wasn’t that your point? Not that a friend acts like a child molester, but that a child molester acts like a friend. How were your readers to know the difference? You could have written that scene a little less ambiguously.
LM: It’s called developing tension.
Jack: At my expense! Some readers never got over it. They wrote scathing things about me, as though I was that creep from “Lolita.” Here I was just being a friend to a neglected and unhappy child and –
LM: What possessed you to do that? That’s what they question.
Jack: Well, whose fault is that? You wrote it. Perhaps you should have given me a chapter or two to narrate so they could get to know me better.
LM: That was a conscious decision. I wanted to let the reader judge you and your actions for themselves. Anyway, the entire story is told from a woman’s perspective, either by Bria herself who sees you through her youthful needs, and Mary, your aunt, the foster mother. Mary did voice a lot of concern about your relationship with the girl, if you remember.
Jack: Mary never understood. Sometimes I wonder if even you understand. Did you ever think about the situation you wrote me into? How complicated and difficult it became?
LM: Well, you asked for a chance to explain and here it is. Go for it.
Jack: I’ll try. Remember this story takes place in the sixties. People didn’t talk about child abuse back then – though they should have. What went on behind our window shades never left the house. Children had nowhere to turn. I know I didn’t. I had to accept what my father dished out – the son of a bitch!
Can you imagine what it was like, to be the first born of five sons to a ham-fisted, hot-tempered bully of a man, always the responsible one? That was me: responsible for his misery and dissatisfaction with life, responsible for the realization of all his thwarted dreams – John Connelly Jr must go to law school, become District Attorney, Congressman, Senator. His dreams, not mine.
Oh yes, I was responsible all right! Responsible for protecting my brothers, and my mother. Doing my best to shield them. And getting a busted face for my pains. Why the hell did you write such a life for me?
LM: If it’s any comfort to you, I based that part of your history on a young man I once knew in real life. It’s not as if such things don’t happen every day, you know.
Jack: Cold comfort to say the least. Anyway, there I was, a year to go before finishing law school and finally gaining my freedom and what happens? This young girl almost ten years old shows up after a few years’ absence, and she’s a mess. If there’s anything I understand and recognize, it’s trouble and she had trouble written all over her. She needed a friend. And I’m the responsible one.
LM: Did you forget who you’re talking to? There was more at work than some over-blown sense of responsibility. All the readers know that much.
Jack: Okay. I admit it; I always got a kick out of the kid. Nothing but boys in our home. She was three the first time she visited. I paid her a little attention, and she just attached herself to me. I let her. I felt sorry for the girl; she deserved so much more than she got.
I was her hero. Do you know how seductive that is to someone who’s never been good enough? Her eyes saw this big, strong, never-failing man with all the answers, not the homely, awkward disappointment I saw in the mirror. Hell of a thing!
Just as I got used to having her around, she was gone, lost, and by the time I found her again, she needed a real hero.
I did my best… But apparently failed.
LM: Self-pity? That doesn’t sound like you.
Jack: I get the feeling you don’t know me as well as you think you do.
LM: Well, that’s true. You turned out to be a lot more complex than I’d planned, but then characters tend to do that. But you know, you haven’t fully answered the question. What would motivate a young man of twenty-six to take on the guardianship of a thirteen-year-old girl
Jack: She had no one else.
LM: She had Mary. Try again.
Jack: Damn! You’d be good at my job – a prosecutor. All right, I’ll say it. I loved her. There’s nothing wrong or obscene about a man loving a girl, no matter what some small minds might think. My intentions were good. I always tried to do the decent thing.
LM: And yet…
Jack: Hey! I did nothing illegal and if some of my actions skirted the morally reprehensive, who’s to blame. You, that’s who. You were once a young girl. You knew what they’re like. I didn’t. I was clueless. Why did you write me that way?
LM: Just some stuff from real life.
Jack: Thanks a lot!
LM: Don’t worry. You get a second chance in the next novel, Fly High; Fly Blind. It’s in revision now. But why am I telling you? You already know that.
Jack: And there are a few things in that one I don’t like, too. For instance –
LM: Sorry, we’re out of space for now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lynda M. Martin, author of This Bird Flew Away
Lynda was born in Dunfirmline, Scotland in 1953, emigrated to Canada with her parents as a young girl. She grew up on the vast prairies of Western Canada, and loved the open wide spaces of that wild land. She was educated in Medicine Hat, Alberta, a town in the southeast corner of that province, and spent most of her time riding horses, barrel racing and hanging around rodeos and cowboys.
In 1968, the product of a troubled youth and a dysfunctional family, she found herself on her own at the age of fifteen, two thousand miles from her home, and knows first hand the dangers facing girls on our streets and the predators that prey on them. She was one of the lucky ones. She survived.
Later in life, she went east to Montreal for her education, graduating from the University of Montreal with a degree in Business Administration, which provided a fine income, but little in the way of personal satisfaction. Still in her twenties, she became a volunteer with social services to work with troubled teen-aged girls, and took every course the social agencies offered.
Soon, she became an outreach worker who worked with police, social agencies and charities, becoming a respected front-line worker, often initiating first contact with recovered abused and exploited children. Over the years, and in many different jurisdictions, this second career became the driving force of her life, which often took her into law-enforcement, child welfare agencies, prosecutors offices and the courts.
You can read more about her career in child protection on her popular and widely read article The Rape of the Innocents. This article is one of many she’s written, posted on her publishing site and accessible here.
The picture you see above is not a true image of Lynda Martin, but the avatar she uses as her alter-personae in the public world, as to use her true image would perhaps leave the histories of some of ‘her girls’ exposed.
Lynda and her husband Jim make their home in the sunny state of Florida, and in her beloved Alberta. She has two daughters and four grandchildren.
Now retired from child protection work, Lynda is a full-time writer, editor, writing teacher and coach.
Where you can find and follow Lynda M. Martin:
Buy the BOOK at:
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