The Girl Who Could Fly
|Publisher||Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, Inc., Scholastic|
The Girl Who Could Fly is a bestselling children's novel by Victoria Forester.
Piper McCloud is a simple, talkative, home-schooled farm girl who lives in Lowland County. But as ordinary as she sounds, she is extraordinary in one way: she can fly. She has been able to since she was a baby. Betty and Joe McCloud, Piper's ma and pa, figure out that she's flying, which worries Betty. After seeing her daughter fly, Betty warns Piper not to fly but Piper doesn't understand. Flying is just a part of her and she needs to do it. Piper then begins to secretly practice flying, and eventually is able to fly around the neighborhood.
A few days later, Betty tells Piper that they'll be going to the Fourth of July picnic, Piper gets excited because it would be a chance to make friends. But Milly Mae Miller, the town gossip, has spread a rumor that Piper is crazy. She makes, and almost immediately loses a new friend, Susie Miller. During a conversation with Susie, Piper mentions that she saw Susie's mother, Milly, kicking the butt of a dog. Susie is scared, and not knowing that Piper can fly, thinks she is spying or stalking her family.
Piper embarrasses herself when she keeps missing the ball during the game, and Milly Mae Miller isn't helping; she keeps sneering at Piper. Determined to prove herself, Piper then flies to catch the ball. Everyone falls silent, thinking Piper is from the devil. The next morning, Piper finds her house surrounded with reporters trying to get the latest scoop on 'The Girl Who Could Fly', attracting a scientist named Dr. Letitia Hellion a stunning agent who works at a school with children with 'special' abilities.
After a visit from Dr Hellion, Piper eventually agrees to reside in the academy and board, on the condition that she does not fly. Her father gives her a hand carved bird tied to a blue ribbon wrapped in a handkerchief before she leaves.
When she does arrive, she enters the school and takes the elevator down to Level Thirteen with Dr. Hellion, who explains that not only do they foster humans, but plants and animals with unique abilities as well. Piper sees many wonders through the glass elevator, including a butterfly with moving colors on its wings and what seems to be a growling rose. She arrives at Level Thirteen, where all the children live and learn. She meets the other members of the academy as well, including a girl named Bella and a boy named Conrad, who hates her immediately.
At lunch, Piper's glass slides back and forth, which is eventually found to be controlled telekinetically by a girl named Lily. Piper turns the tables on her and ends up spilling Lily's own water on her dress, which earn the approval of all Piper's classmates. When back in class, Conrad bullies Jasper, a boy who forgot his talent, and bashes his basket up. He tricks Piper into flying to save herself from falling to her death, which causes her to be nearly expelled. At mealtime, Bella is seen making rainbows. At first, everyone cheers, until they realize Bella is crying. Conrad offers to take her to Nurse Tolle. Piper later bonds with Dr Hellion and the kids. Conrad finally pushes her to her tipping point, and during the graduation of a dull-looking Bella, steals her hand carved bird and chucks it in the trash. She fights with Conrad and they are both sent to Dr Hellion's office.
While on their way, Piper escapes to the incinerator and meets a growling rose, which a machine nearby sprays a black substance on it. A tiny drop lands on Piper's arm and it burns her, and she feels sorry for the rose. She meets a turtle with a heavy block crushing its back and decides to leave her bird and save the animals. The turtle, being freed from the block, bounces playfully around the room. It escapes out of a window. Whilst trying to catch it, Piper finds the black cricket (whom she later calls Sebastian) she met and she finds he is being bound with sticky glue. Using some Q tips, she gets rid of it and keeps the cricket, which she names Sebastian. She hears Jessie and Moo coming and hides in a room, where she finds a giraffe. She strokes him lovingly because he is chained by the legs, and it glows in happiness. While hiding, she hears a voice, which is found to be Dr Hellion's. When the scientists find the black cricket missing, CCTV reveals Piper took it, and Dr Hellion walks to her office, thinking she is there. Piper flies with difficulty to her office and spots a phone, which she uses to dial her Ma and Pa. Unfortunately, Conrad ends the call and dissects the phone, proving it to be bugged. He hands her her wooden bird and explains he made a replica and threw the replica in the trash. He tells her to keep the cricket and play along. Conrad immediately blurts to Dr Hellion that Piper was hiding something, and tells her Bella took a black cricket and let Piper touch it. Dr Hellion questions him about a fight over him throwing Piper's bird in the trash, which he denies and Piper holds her bird up. After lights out, Conrad explains that the academy, called I.N.S.A.N.E, tries to make everything that walks through its doors normal. Through the food, they put a formula in tailored to every human to deactivate their abilities and do the same thing with the animals and plants and if all fails, destroys them. Conrad was only picking on Piper so she could wake up and fly. Piper refuses to escape with him unless the rest are going, and begins to encourage them to dream about using their talents in a good way. The only person she can't get an answer out of is Jasper, who is scheduled to graduate next (when someone has fully lost their power). They tell the kids and plan an escape plan, which fails with Dr Hellion catching them. Dr Hellion puts Piper in a M.O.L.D., then leaves to wait for Piper to succumb. A man with the power of invisibility known as J. reveals himself and tries to get Piper out, but she refuses and J. leaves. Sebastian comes and sings to her, revealing his talent, but is effectively killed by Dr Hellion with agent A. Agent's shoe, which causes Piper to black out. Afterwards, Conrad is confused on how he could have possibly failed and starts to stay in bed. She arrives a few weeks later, after Conrad awakes from weeks of lying in bed, thinking that Piper might have the answer. The kids find that Piper has forgotten who she was, on top of being crippled, and Conrad suggests they leave without her. Jasper refuses and finally remembers his talent, which is healing. He heals Piper and she remembers herself and how to fly. They instead do not escape but revolt, which seems to succeed. As the children are leaving the school to catch a glimpse of the sun, Dr. Hellion is waiting for them with a stun baton. Piper and Dr Hellion fight, leading to Dr Hellion uncovering the secret ability to fly. She finally falls into the icy cliffs then remembering a terrible flash-back about her younger sister Sarah who died from falling into a cliff when she and Dr Hellion were out flying. Then Dr Hellion stops flying and Piper tries to save her but Dr Hellion falls into the icy cliffs below and kills herself, and several months later, Conrad joins Piper as a part of her family after being abandoned by his. Piper goes to the picnic along with her friends from I.N.S.A.N.E., and they win the annual baseball game. Lowland County has been told that Piper had pulled an "optical illusion" on them and was sent to the academy "because she was a bad girl." Later, Conrad and Piper are talking on the roof. Piper reveals to him that J. came to her and told her that the kids from I.N.S.A.N.E. were not safe yet, and there was another, hidden place where they belonged instead.
The book won the Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, the Black Eyed Susan Award, Booklist Editors' Choice, Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award Master List, Indiana Young Hoosier Award Master List and the Utah Beehive Book Award Master List Awards. The novel was under the Top 10 First Novels for Youth.
- Macmillan: The Girl Who Could Fly: Victoria Forester: Books, Retrieved on 6 September 2010
- J. could possibly be Johnny, Dr. Hellion's brother who was taken away as a child.