There are some battles worth fighting even if it means losing yourself.
T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she's not developing schizophrenia.Genetics are not on Lily's side.
When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily's odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there's a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests.
But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can't abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf's life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.
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Tiger Lilly Decker is hoping to make it through the next twelve years. Her genetics have predicted her future and it doesn't look good. Lilly's mom had schizophrenia and attempted to kill Lilly and herself by jumping off the top of a building when Lilly was seven years old. Now, as a senior in high school, the danger zone for the onset of schizophrenia is approaching. Lilly follows a strict regiment to ensure that she will not trigger any of the symptoms including reducing stress, getting plenty of sleep and avoiding certain foods. Lilly's handsome, rich, popular and not yet out of the closet, best friend, Sawyer supports her through. With Lilly's internship at the local paper, she has been reporting on the birth of an Asian Elephant Calf, Swifty. After the calf is born however, the mom rejects Swifty and Lilly is triggered to run in front of the charging elephant mother to protect Swifty. With a strong bond to the calf, Lilly is invited to follow Swifty as she is sent to the circus to be with the father that sired her. Lilly continues to report on Swifty and the circus conditions and digs until she uncovers the cruelty that happens there. With Swifty slowly dying, Lilly decides to break all of her rules and the law to get Swifty to safety.
When Elephants Fly is a powerful story of one person's journey with schizophrenia. If that weren't enough, the story also focuses on animal rights and sexuality. Lilly's story is an important one, putting into focus that people with a mental illness are people first and should not be characterized by their illness. Lilly is careful, guarded, and has an amazing heart. Her fear of inheriting schizophrenia is understandable, but rules her life. Lilly's journey to accept that she can not change her genetics is very meaningful especially when it is tied into the story of saving the life of Swifty. With Swifty's story Lilly learns that there are bigger things in life than herself. Swifty brings to light the plight that all elephants are facing now in the wild and the role of zoos in animal conservation along with the difficult decisions that people make on the elephant's behalf. Along with that, Lilly learns that some people aren't what they seem as she uncovers that hidden animal abuse at the zoo. The writing does a wonderful job of showing the complex emotions that elephants have as well as the complicated nature of a mental illness. As Swifty's life is endangered, Lilly's symptoms also begin to show, although it doesn't seem like anything that Lilly can't deal with. Inspiring and hopeful, When Elephants Fly beautifully takes difficult subjects and weaves them into an intricate and enjoyable story.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Praise for WHEN ELEPHANTS FLY
"Nancy Richardson Fischer has managed to combine so many important topics-family, mental illness, extinction, animal welfare, and adolescence-into an accessible, moving and extraordinary story." ―Ellen C. O'Connell, Executive Vice President, Global, Space for Giants
"This book was an absolute pleasure to read. I encourage everyone to read this inspirational book and discuss mental illness and tolerance and the need to improve wildlife protection." ―Katie Rowe, Pritzker Genius Award nominee, Co-founder Reteti Elephant Sanctuary
"This moving coming-of-age adventure story is a captivating page-turner that crescendos to a valiant and surprisingly delightful conclusion filled with hope for both humans and elephants." ―Patricia Sims, Filmmaker, When Elephants Were Young. Founder, World Elephant Day
"When Elephants Fly is a compelling read, beautifully threading the complex relationship between mothers and daughters, mental illness and elephants." ―National Book Award finalist Carrie Arcos
"Not only does this book show the reader the perils of keeping elephants in zoos and having them perform in circuses, it does it with heart, grace, and imagination." ―Nina Berry, author of The Notorious Pagan Jonesand the Otherkinseries
"Unlike anything I've read before in YA, When Elephants Fly is both a fascinating adventure and a stirring coming-of-age novel. There are few clear heroes or villains, and no easy answers for Lily as she moves into an uncertain future. The bond between elephant and girl is deftly wrought-reminiscent of Alec and the Black in Walter Farley's classic, The Black Stallion, but for an older, contemporary audience." ―Sara Zarr, author of Gem & Dixie
I was born on the east coast and went to Cornell University. After college I worked as a writer for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. It was a fun first job and I learned how to write quickly, and also that when elephants sneeze on you it's very (VERY) messy. After a year in the circus, I moved out west. I lived in Aspen, Colorado where I skied as much as possible and worked as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant. Great experience but I learned that waitressing is hard (HARD) and I'm not very good at it.
After Aspen, I moved to San Francisco, California where I worked as a writer for University of California, San Francisco and wrote freelance for LucasFilm. At UCSF I learned that sitting in a cubicle under fluorescent lights dulls my soul. LucasFilm taught me that writing freelance, especially fiction, is fun (FUN). So I headed to graduate school in Boulder, Colorado to further hone my skills.
For the first part of my freelance writing career I wrote sport autobiographies. I'd visit and travel with an athlete like Monica Seles, Bela Karolyi, Nadia Comaneci or Apolo Ohno and then write their book. It was a terrific job, but after ten years and tons of incredible experiences I got tired of writing other peoples' stories and not my own.
Today I live in the Pacific Northwest with my amazing husband, Henry, and our mostly loveable (but sometimes vorpal) Vizsla, Boone. When I'm not conjuring a story, I love to kite-board, bike, ski or plan adventures with Boone and Henry, who both make me laugh for different reasons and who are the best partners in fun a gal could ever imagine.
PHOTO CONTENT FROM NANCY RICHARDSON FISCHER