ARC Copy · Book of My Choosing - 2018 · Book Review · Contemporary · NetGalley · Young Adult

ARC Review: When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer


Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Mental Health
Publication Date: 
September 1, 2018
Story Perspective: First-Person
Themes: Mental Health, Relationships, Schizophrenia, Suicide, Animal Abuse, Healing, Acceptance

This book was given for free, courtesy by NetGalley 
and Harlequin Teen.

SynopsisCan Lily escape the seemingly inevitability of being diagnosed with schizophrenia? Her best friend, Sawyer, seems to think so. Her dad doesn’t. Lily? She isn’t sure. All she knows is that she needs to follow her twelve-year plan to get through the riskiest years of potentially becoming schizophrenic. That means no added stress and no taking risks.

As a newspaper intern, she is assigned to follow the birth of Swift Jones and witnesses the baby elephant’s mother’s rejection toward the calf. Now, Lily has some tough choices to make. Not only to follow Swifty far away from Lily’s home, but when something incomprehensible happens, Lily is about to make decisions that would deter from her twelve-year plan. All for a baby elephant.

my review

Wow, what a great story! I love how the author explores schizophrenia and how one girl, Lily, deals with this mental disorder. It’s a disorder that I don’t think about too often, as I don’t know someone who has it, but it’s one that exists. Though Lily may not deal with her potential schizophrenia as others might have, the author includes some examples of how others have handled their disorder. There were both positive stories and ones that ended in a sad way. 

It was heartbreaking to learn about Lily’s mother attempt to kill her daughter and how her father treated Lily. It can’t be easy to learn the woman you love has schizophrenia, tried to kill your daughter, and now you’re afraid your daughter has the disorder, too. I really felt for Lily’s situation.

Tying in the elephant piece to the story was also touching. Swifty, experiencing a similar situation as Lily, was something I found so poetic.  It was so easy to feel for this newborn elephant and what she goes through, especially when entering a new and perhaps unsafe environment. I also found the author’s openness on both the lovely aspects of a baby elephant and the gross parts of taking care of a newborn calf. There were scenes that made me gag (i.e. baby elephant diarrhea), but there were realistic, which I appreciated. On the upside, there were scenes that were sweet and endearing with little Swifty.

Needless to say, I really liked how well the reader gets to know Lily and her situation. I found the pacing to be steady and even exciting at times. It was a book that I always enjoyed opening up to continue reading.

My only issue with the book was the ending. There didn’t seem to be a resolution and it left the reader questioning what ends up happening. I wanted to know more about Swifty’s situation, Lily’s friendship with Sawyer, Lily’s relationship with her father, and Lily’s future. Perhaps this was intentional and maybe the reader can assume certain things, but I typically like more wrapped-up endings. However, this is personal preference and I know others will probably feel differently, therefore, I will not mark the book down for this personal preference.

Overall, this was a joy to read, and I will definitely be looking out for more books from Nancy Richardson Fischer!

My Rating5 stars


I would absolutely recommend this young adult read to those who like to read about a young girl dealing with the potential of being diagnosed with schizophrenia, and the little elephant that helped her.

Was this a book of my choosing or one for review?
45 out of 50 books of my choosing for 2018!

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