Moving from a harsh West Belfast estate to the glamour of the showjumping ring, Taking Flight is a fast-paced story of courage overcoming jealousy. The only riding fifteen-year-old Declan has ever done is joyriding. When he's forced to stay with his snobby cousin 'Princess' Vicky, he's shocked to find himself falling in love with horses. Vicky would do anything to keep this grubby hood away from her precious showjumper, Flight. Populated with courageous and vibrant characters, Taking Flight is a brilliant debut from an exciting new writer.
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Belfast-born Sheena Wilkinson's book Friends in the Fourth, based on her doctoral research into the 'crossover' genre of the girls' school story, was published by Bettany Press in 2007. Her real love, however, is fiction. Her first-ever short story, 'Amputees', won the Brian Moore Award in 2006, and was followed by 'Dissociation', which won second prize in the same contest in 2009. 'Holding On' was a runner-up in the Sean O'Faolain Contest 2009, and 'Local Pride' won first prize in the Writers' Bureau Short Story Award 2009. Sheena has recently completed an M.A. in Creative Writing (with Distinction) at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen's University, Belfast. She teaches English at Methodist College, Belfast.From School Library Journal:
Gr 7 Up—Two cousins, Declan and Vicky, who are from opposite socioeconomic sides of town, narrate this story that centers on horses and show-jumping in present-day Ireland. Declan's mother is put into rehab, and he is forced to live with his aunt and prissy cousin Vicky, who owns a show horse named Flight. As part of a work experience program, Declan volunteers at the stables, and though he has never had much contact with animals, he is changed by his proximity to the horses, especially Flight. As tragedy occurs and both cousins are to blame, Declan withdraws back into the tough street youth he once was. Both voices are believable as teens and are well drawn and layered. Vicky is spoiled and a little bratty, but depictions of her divorced parents and upper-class lifestyle provide an explanation for her behavior. Declan rebels in classic "fight and flight" ways, but he narrates his reasons and his feelings in a way that will feel relatable. American readers will easily understand the meaning of the Irish slang within the context of the story and dialogue. Both narrators experience a bit of a romance, appropriate for even young teens. VERDICT Recommended for general purchase, this title should appeal to fans of horse stories.—Heather Massa, East Rockaway Public Library, NY
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