Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Book Review: This Is How We Fly by Anna Meriano

17-year-old vegan feminist Ellen Lopez-Rourke has one muggy Houston summer left before college. She plans to spend every last moment with her two best friends before they go off to the opposite ends of Texas for school. But when Ellen is grounded for the entire summer by her (sometimes) evil stepmother, all her plans are thrown out the window. 

Determined to do something with her time, Ellen (with the help of BFF Melissa) convinces her parents to let her join the local muggle Quidditch team. Suddenly Ellen is thrown into the very different world of sports: her life is all practices, training, and running with a group of Harry Potter fans. But with her home life and friend troubles quickly spinning out of control--Ellen must fight for the future that she wants, now she's playing for keeps.

Please Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher as apart of the digital book launch and tour. All opinions are my own. I do not receive commission if you click on any of the links in this post. If you'd like to send me a book or product to feature, check out my work with me page. Thank you for supporting my site!

Author Anna Meriano captures the struggles and joys of a young woman trying to become an adult or at least “adult” more. Ellen is only seventeen, but she has the weight of the world on her shoulders as a vegan, feminist, and trying to balance that in-between age of being a teenager and a pre-college student. Her parents want her to be "normal", but like most teenagers, Ellen doesn't know that her interests and beliefs are anything but. Who she is sets the stage of who she will become. With different parts of her life taking off in various directions, only experience and time will help her along to fit all of the pieces together. As her life at home closes in around her, and the post-high school world of possibilities might be too big to venture with, Ellen’s journey is relatable as she takes chances, makes mistakes, and remains someone to root for.

The strong centerpiece of the book that tethers Ellen with the supporting characters and their conflicts is Quidditch. Fans within the Harry Potter community strive to make the fandom as welcoming as possible, and the use of Quidditch as a network of characters who help Ellen understand her gender, sexuality, and inner strength is satisfying as a fellow Harry Potter fan. 

As a general reader though, you don’t need to have followed Harry Potter to understand how the game is described. This makes the book accessible to fans and non-fans alike. The game is a jumping point to Ellen’s personal growth, and also offers a deeper sense of other characters such as her best friend Melissa, stepmom, step-sister, and a few possible love interests.

As endearing as Ellen and her journey of self-discovery is, where the book could’ve improved upon more was the exploration of Ellen’s identity. It was wonderful to see the diversity of characters, especially with the book led by a vegan feminist and second-generation Mexican American. And the range of her friends offer more diversity as well, so the book highlights a group of young adults who are finding their identities. However, it felt like some of these details could've been cultivated with more exploration. This is somewhat in contrast to how seamless and descriptive Ellen’s voice is as she paints a picture of her self-doubts, participating in Quidditch, and feeling ostracized by her parents. Otherwise, Ellen is still a refreshing central character who can easily become a fan favorite for readers and leave a lasting impression for Harry Potter fans.

This Is How We Fly is a charming coming-of-age tale that explores the traditional growing pains of life after high school. As the story unfolds around Ellen, it’s easy to get wrapped up in her world and finish the book feeling victorious like you caught the Golden Snitch.

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