Monday, November 30, 2015

The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock

4 Star

Jim Harrison is a test pilot in the United States Air Force, one of the exalted few. He spends his days cheating death in the skies above the Mojave Desert and his nights at his friend Pancho's bar, often with his wife, Grace. She and Harrison are secretly desperate for a child-and when, against all odds, Grace learns that she is pregnant, the two are overcome with joy.

While America becomes swept up in the fervor of the Space Race, Harrison turns his attention home, passing up the chance to become an astronaut to welcome his daughter, Florence, into the world. Together, he and Grace confront the thrills and challenges of raising a child head-on. Fatherhood is different than flying planes-less controlled, more anxious-however the pleasures of watching Florence grow are incomparable. But when his family is faced with a sudden and inexplicable tragedy, Harrison's instincts as a father and a pilot are put to test. As a pilot, he feels compelled to lead them through it-and as a father, he fears that he has fallen short.  The aftermath will haunt the Harrisons and strain their marriage as Jim struggles under the weight of his decisions. 

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

Another stellar debut novel, I have started feeling spoiled this year by all the great writing available out there. This one was not an especially happy book as it was quite a stressful life that Jim and Grace lived but it did have its sweet moments.

This book was set during a very exciting and interesting historical period of time in the United States and I found the story to be compelling based on that alone. The family life of the main characters just helped make it even more compelling as it created a human side to the historical aspect.

I felt like the author had really researched the story well as it was very detailed and the characters had great dialogue. The story flowed well and drew me in. The only thing that I could not absolutely agree with was the way the ending rushed ahead but it may be because Jim and Grace had grown on me and I did not want to say goodbye.

Often heart wrenching, this book should be celebrated for its triumphs. The triumphs historically happening with the space program and the triumphs of the characters who were able to overcome tragedy and move forward. 

Thank you to Picador for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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