Become part of the circus family in Lisa Heathfield’s Flight of a Starling


United By Pop received a free copy of Flight of a Starling in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.

Title: Flight of a Starling

Author: Lisa Heathfield

Purchase: Available in the UK and the US

Overall rating: 4/5

Great for: Fans of Orlagh Collins, Stephanie Garber, and Megan Abbott

Themes: Coming-of-age, young adult, contemporary, romance


Review: Around this time last year, I read and absolutely adored, Heathfield’s ‘Paper Butterflies‘, (full review can be found here) so was extremely excited to get the chance to read her most recent release! Fortunately, for me, it lived up my highly placed expectations and proved, once again, just how much of a poignant and graceful writer she is!

‘Flight of a Starling’ is the story of a travelling circus family and the ‘flattie’ boy who threatens to disrupt their peaceful existence. Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, share everything together – the same trailer, the same position as acrobats of the big top, and up until now the same predictable future. But when one sister begins to feel the allure of a rooted existence, lived only in one place, both siblings begin to reassess their accepted fates and wonder at the previously unforeseen lives that could be lead, without the addition of glitter and greasepaint.

I loved learning about all of the cultural traditions and superstitious beliefs of this roving community, which felt like an honest insight into a life I have no experience or knowledge of, and I adored the relationship between the two sisters this primarily focused on. Their split perspective and details of their acrobatic expertise made for interesting reading. I appreciated how a shared insight was given to their ‘work-life’, as part of the circus family, and their ‘personal life’, which revolved around plights that many teenage girls can or could identify with.

I didn’t fully appreciate the whirlwind romance, however, which dominated much of the plot. As one sister is tempted by the forbidden fruit of love with a boy outside of the big top, the other is left lamenting the loss of her sister and worrying about the broken heart that is sure to come. I found myself wrongfully predicting this book’s close and assuming this to have a rather cliched contemporary ending. I was, however, forgetting the sinister prologue that framed the piece and was deceived just as the novel seemed it was about to draw to a guessable close.

I should have remembered Heathfield’s enjoyment at the torture of her readers, and I crawled my way to the close of this book knowing, and yet in utter denial, of the inevitable conclusion. Once again her evocative writing style is what really sold this story to me and, once again, the ending spoke of the fragility of life and of my now broken heart.


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