10-year-old Melody wants to fly, to soar like an eagle far above the troubles in her earth-bound life. She knows if she can just swing high enough her wings will unfurl and she’ll finally be happy. Until then there’s always her patented zombie face guaranteed to frighten away the most tenacious bully or possible friend, keeping Melody safe in her self-imposed cocoon of isolation. When Melody leaps off a swing and into the mystical realm of Chimeroan where dreams come true, she begins a journey to not only earn her wings, but to face her past, conquer her fears, and to discover that the things that hold us back—even the things we want most desperately or fear with all our heart—are not always what they seem.
Up in the Air by Ann Marie Meyers is one of those rare books for children that accurately portrays the reality of being a child without making adults look like stumbling idiots or children seem uber-smart, successful, lucky, or treacle-y sweet versions of grown-ups. On the surface Melody’s story is an adventure quest complete with magical beasts, puzzles, and inscrutable Guides. It’s easy to get caught up in the world of unicorns, elves, dragons, and leprechauns as most middle grade readers will. But Melody’s story is much deeper, a parable for all ages that explores the complicated reasons for self-abusive behavior and a hit-first-before-they-hurt-you view of the world. As Melody progresses in her quest, she has to face and understand how her perceptions of herself and past events are limiting herself and preventing those she loves from true happiness.
Like flying, it’s a view that will leave you breathless.
Up in the Air by Ann Marie Meyers is published by Jolly Fish Press and available in hardback, trade paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine bookstores. While appropriate for middle grade readers, adults and teens will enjoy it, too.