Fly Away by Kristin Hannah is the sequel to Firefly Lane. The novel begins almost four years after the death of Tully’s best friend, Kate; TullyandKate, (no spaces needed because they were one in the same) best friends forever. Kate suffered from cancer and left her family, as well as Tully, broken and fragile. Although the novel begins four years after Kate’s death, there are flashbacks throughout the entire novel. The first flashback begins at Kate’s funeral. The flashbacks are seen through many characters’ eyes: Johnny, Kate’s husband; Marah, Kate’s daughter; Tully, Kate’s best friend; and Cloud, Tully’s mother.
When Fly Away opens, Tully is in a really rough place. Jobless, and without her best friend, Tully turns to prescription drugs and alcohol. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Dorthory Hart also known as Cloud, Tully becomes addicted without even realizing it. Marah, not yet a woman, but not a teenager anymore, also hasn’t recovered from her mother’s death. She is not satisfied with her father’s efforts to help her cope, or her Godmother’s, Tully, efforts to take care of her as if she were her own daughter. Johnny, Kate’s one true love, is struggling to be a successful single father to Marah and twin boys, his decisions sometimes cause more harm than good, but he is trying to move on with his life as best as he can.
Fly Away grabbed my heart and held it tight from the first page of the novel to the last page of the novel. It’s as if I was holding my breath the entire time I was reading it until the final page, where I could finally breathe again. Many times I had tears in my eyes, waiting to feel them fall down my face as I turned the page and braced myself for what would come next.
When I first read Firefly Lane last year, I thought about my best friend growing up. We always said we would get pregnant together, grow old together, and sit in rocking chairs right next to each other just like Tully and Kate. I felt such a connection to the story that I wanted to go to the top of a mountain and scream as loud as I could, “If you ever had a best friend, you need to read this book.” After reading Fly Away, I felt the same way. I thought about my childhood best friend, I thought about how much fun we used to have, and how much I wish she was reading the same book so that we could talk about it; laugh together and cry together.
Kristin Hannah never lets me down. Every book I read of hers’ gets better and better. I must admit though, Firefly lane is and always will be my favorite. Maybe it’s because I read it first or maybe because it felt so special, but I will always love that book the most.
We learn in Firefly Lane that Tully has a mother who has been absent for the majority of her life; when she wasn’t absent she was either high or drunk. In Fly Away, we learn more about Dorthory Hart, formally Cloud, and learn that from the outside looking in, she looks like a bad mother, but from the inside looking out, she seems to have done the only thing she knew would be best for her daughter, which was leave her to grow up without her. At first I was annoyed with the whole Cloud story, I didn’t like hearing her inner thoughts, or learning about her past. As I read more and more, I learned to love Dorthory Hart, something I never throught could happen in Firefly Lane. Dorothy has had a hard life but she discovers, as well as we the readers, that it is never too late to try again.
Reading books about cancer always makes me sad, even though Firefly Lane focused more on cancer, Fly Away still tugged at my heart and made me even more grateful that I didn’t lose my own mom to breast cancer. I wanted to reach out and hug Marah. She was the same age as I was when my mom went through cancer and I could not imagine living my life without my mom, not then and not now. I could not imagine having to wake up knowing that I would never see her again. I can understand why Marah went down a dark road, I can understand why she felt all alone, and I am happy that she had Tully and her father, to keep reminding her how awesome her mom was and how much she loved her and her twin brothers.
At the end of Fly Away, I was so sad to say goodbye to Tully and Kate all over again. I had to say goodbye once before, after reading Firefly Lane, because at the time I didn’t know there was a sequel. Now, I know this goodbye is probably for real. I will tuck TullyandKate away and look for them again on a rainy day. I can’t wait to read the books all over again to relive their story from start to finish.