Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth is going to be one of the big debut novels of the year. Howorth is already loved by many as the co-owner of Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi and the industry has certainly got behind her for the release of Flying Shoes on June 17, 2014. But then there is also the fact that Flying Shoes is just a really good novel.
Flying Shoes recounts the story of Mary Byrd as she returns to her home town thirty years after her step brother was found dead in the woods. The case has been re-opened and in order to help Mary Byrd must confront the demons that have haunted her since Stevie went missing all those years ago. The added twist to all of this is that the novel is actually based on Howorth’s own experiences.
One of the reasons why I liked Flying Shoes so much was because of the way in which Mary Byrd’s life as a wife and mother does not slow down just because she is going through her own private turmoil. In this way Howorth captures the reality of what it is like to be a mother. Even though she is in the throes a her personal drama, as a mother her mind keeps flashing back to her kids’ science projects.
The other major strength of the novel is in its portrayal of the American South. The novel is set in Mississippi and Virginia and although I’ve never been to either state, I get the sense that she has captured the personality of the place perfectly. Many of the minor characters exhibit what can only be called a Southern sensibility, even if the at times the perspectives expressed are rather contrary.
In spite of all of this praise, Flying Shoes still feels like a first novel. There are places and subplots that I would have liked to have seen cut or abbreviated. Also, some of the characters like Mary Byrd’s husband did not seem fully formed. However, I do look forward to reading whatever Howorth produces next.
Who would like this book? I don’t normally get personal in this section, but I will this time and say that Shannon at River City Reading will like this book. It is also a perfect candidate for The Southern Literature Reading Challenge hosted by The Introverted Reader due to it’s southern feel. Beyond that it is a book about secrets and the past that never really leaves.
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.