the way the crow flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald

Rating: 5 Stars
Pages: 848
Genre: Fiction
ISBN-10: 0060586370
ISBN-13: 978-0060586379
ASIN: B000FC14FS
Audio: Yes

At first I did not like the way the crow flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald. I found the telling of the story from the perspective of each member of the  McCarthy family confusing. As I became familiar with the family members (the parents Jack and Mimi and the siblings Mike and Madeleine) and the story developed, I could not put down the book.

The story takes place in the early 1960s on the Centralia air force base in Ontario, Canada, at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, before feminism, and when children were seen as innocents and shielded from the sins of the adult world. As a child of that era, I enjoyed the many references to the-then pop culture. This is not a book about nostalgia but about the grey areas, ethical choices,  and lies and deception that affect the McCarthy family.

Eight-year-old Madeleine has a secret. She along with other girls in her class are molested by a teacher. Jack, an officer in the RCAF is working on a secret mission and lies to keep Mimi and others from finding out about it, and then struggles with the moral issues that arise. Even the neighbors have secrets.

When one of Madeleine’s class mates is found murdered in a field, the story becomes complex. Both the father and daughter must chose whether to reveal their secrets or not, and then they must live with their decision.

To me, solving the murder was less intriguing than following the character development and excellently weaved stories from the child versus adult point of view. I wanted Madeleine’s parents to notice what was happening to their daughter. I wanted Jack to make different decisions than he did. I wanted a different outcome from the trial. But, the author reminds us, life is not always about what we want.

Ms MacDonald’s writing style is a pleasure to read from a technical point of view. She is a wonderful wordsmith, and uses metaphors and similes, stream of consciousness, and striking comparisons to narrate this complex story. I enjoyed studying her style as much as reading the book.