WARNING: THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU THIRSTY! KEEP WATER NEARBY
7th Grade and Up
Twelve-year-old Jolene spends every day she can at the library watching her favorite Livestream: The Desert Aviator, where twelve-year-old “Addie Earhart” shares her adventures flying an ultralight plane over the desert. While watching this daring girl fly through the sky, Jolene can dream of what it would be like to fly with her, far away from her own troubled home life where her mother struggles with an opioid addiction. And Addie, who is grieving the loss of her father, finds solace in her online conversations with Jolene, her biggest—and only—fan.
Then, one day, it all goes wrong: Addie’s engine abruptly stops, and Jolene watches in helpless horror as the ultralight plummets to the ground and the video goes dark. Jolene knows that Addie won’t survive long in the extreme summer desert heat. With no one to turn to for help and armed with only a hand-drawn map and a stolen cell phone, it’s up to Jolene to find a way to save the Desert Aviator.
Dear lord! This story is so stressful and emotional on so many levels.
I’ve never done well with the subject of drugs, so I usually stay away from books that feature drug abuse and/or drug addiction. But a desert rescue adventure was too enticing to pass up. Opioid addiction is a challenging subject, but the story addresses it in a way that isn’t so overwhelming.
Since the police and her mother won’t take her seriously, Jolene sees no other choice but to rescue Addie herself. But she is completely unprepared. She has hardly any supplies or water and no plan whatsoever. It should be made clear that Jolene’s actions are reckless and foolish. I do admire her determination, despite how careless she is being.
A good portion of the story is Jolene facing multiple obstacles and walking in the hot sun. I’ve been to Phoenix, Arizona, and it is so hot it feels like all the moisture is being sucked out of your body. I spent most of the story wondering, “how could anyone possibly survive being out in the desert for that long?” But it has been proven that humans are capable of surviving even in the most extreme of circumstances.
I recommend this book to fans of the I Survived series and Rebecca Behrens’s The Disaster Days.