“Nancy Richardson Fischer deserves high praise for her well-researched and endearing novel. Her imagination, craft, and effort has resulted in her writing a piece of fiction that is worthy of winning a prize. This really is an outstanding piece of fiction that cannot be recommended enough.” –New York Journal of Books

A Parade Most Anticipated Book of Fall 2018!

A YA Books Central Buzzworthy Books of Fall 2018!

A Publishers Lunch Fall Buzz Book!

Don’t miss one of the most heartwarming young adult novels of the year. Perfect for fans of Water for Elephants , Wonder and All the Bright Places , When Elephants Fly shows that how we choose to live our lives matters, and that there are some battles worth fighting even if it means losing yourself.

T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she’s not developing schizophrenia.

Genetics are not on Lily’s side. When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily’s odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there’s a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests.

But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can’t abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.

Audiobook review

6 stars and one ugly cry

Oh my god! I cried so much listening to that book.

I am a huge animal lover and seeing that elephant calf so depressed after being rejected by her mom that she wanted to die truly broke my heart.

Also seeing the cruelty done to animals, hearing about poachers killing elephants deeply hurt me.

But the author did not write a black or white story.

We learn that helping elephants or endangered species is complicated. Zoos or circus both have their flaws. Only the big sanctuaries for wild life can pretend at offering a somewhat normal life to these wild animals.

The same can be said for schizophrenia.

It’s a heavy topic and central theme of the book. Lily’s mom had schizophrenia. And we’ll learn that even if she loved her daughter in her own way that also led to abuse. She came from a family of women all suffering from that mental illness. And Lily knows that she also is a ticking bomb.

She might one day disappear, stop to be herself and begin to hallucinate.

Medication is not the perfect solution either as the side effects can be debilitating. We learn that most people show signs of schizophrenia between the age of 18 and 35. That’s why Lily’s plan is to avoid everything that could trigger that condition. Avoid strong emotions, eat healthy, sleep well etc.

When Lily, as a volunteer journalist at her local newspaper covers the birth of a baby elephant at the local zoo, she never imagined the adventure she will embark on.

The baby elephant is named Swift Jones, chosen by the highest bidder of the donation event Lily organized. Swift Jones being a famous pop and country star (cue the hints at Taylor Swift here).

Soon after the birth, Lily will witness Swift Jones ‘s mother attempting to kill the baby elephant.

Elephants feel emotions like humans and the baby is heartbroken, crying big fat tears. That part had me crying too!

Soon the elephant is shipped to her father’s  circus and Lily having a strong bond with Swiftie will follow her to report her settling in her new life.

Only… Swiftie is eating less and less and she is so depressed that her life is in danger.

That,s when Lily, who tried carefully to maintain an distance and to not be emotionally involved to avoid following in her mother’s footstep, schizophrenia being triggered by high emotions,  will have to make a choice: follow her plan and let the calf die or risk everything to give Swift Jones an chance at survival.

I can’t stress enough how this book is poignant. It’s also smart, broaches very sensitive topics like mental illness, wild life conservation, etc. I’dl like to say that if you love ugly cry books, if you love to learn new things, then go for it.

The audiobook narrated by Caitlin Davies was also excellent.

Tahnks for reading!


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  1. This sounds so emotional. Schizophrenia is a tough one. I have family member with schizophrenia, so I get it. I could imagine how it would be scary for a kid/teen, and it’s sad that she kept herself from many experiences in an effort to try and thwart schizophrenia.

  2. I might ugly cry with this book too, it sounds so emotional. I do love elephants, although I’m not sure I could read about people who abuse them.