Rarely do I equate women’s fiction with the suspense/thriller genre but “The Last Flight” fits it like a dovetail. Author Julie Clark had me spellbound with her intricately woven narrative about two unrelated women who are desperate to escape their circumstances. They meet in the airport, exchange identities including clothing, and each heads toward what they hope is a new life. A second chance. A do-over.
Claire Cook is married to an abuser. He fools the outside world with his solicitous behavior in public but in the privacy of their home, he’s handy with his fists. And in a different way, the verbal abuse can be as devastating as the physical. Claire is scheduled to be in Detroit and plans to slip across the border and quietly “disappear”. She has it all set up, including a new identity and enough cash to carry her through to a better life. But Rory thwarts her plan by diverting her to Puerto Rico for a different assignment.
As an undergraduate student on scholarship at Berkeley, Eva James had a promising future in chemistry and mathematics. Raised in the foster care system, Eva had high hopes but she got tangled up with a boyfriend that hung her out to dry when she was discovered making “uppers” in the school lab. Immediate expulsion was the result. With no money, job or a place to live she’s befriended by Dex who promises to keep her “safe” and richly rewarded by making a high quality product to sell at premium prices. If she followed his rules, he’d keep her safe. But Eva stumbles into a friendship that sparked a rare journey of soul-searching and self-discovery. Could she change her life and be a better person?
How many of us have wished we could redo parts of our lives? Only this time we’d be armed with the knowledge gleaned from our experiences. Both Claire and Eva had their respective plans in place when they met at the airport and agreed on the ID switch. Eva is now headed to Puerto Rico and Claire is ticketed to Oakland. But fate steps in when the flight to Puerto Rico crashes in the ocean. With no survivors, Claire is assumed dead. Now she’s free. Only she isn’t. She has no identification, no money, no job and not much of a future without those necessities. However, she is a survivor so she heads to Eva’s home for refuge as she figures out how to salvage the rest of her life.
The narrative of this original plot is delivered in two time lines. Eva’s actions leading up to the fateful plane crash give the reader insight into the circumstances that brought her to the life she’s led and why she wants to leave it behind. Claire’s timeline is the present which presents unexpected challenges, no less vexing but definitely unpredictable. Both Eva and Claire are courageous to willingly risk it all to change the trajectories of their lives.
From a reader’s perspective, following two separate timelines kept me on my toes but I never looked for an excuse to put it aside as I’ve been known to do before. “The Last Flight” goes onto my list of Best Books of 2020. Five stars.
TheLastFlight #JulieClark #ReadMyLips.home.blog #Twitter.savsandy #Instagram.sandragarlandhardy #Goodreads.Savsandy #Facebook.SandraGarlandHardy