In Which Yaya Writes

United States

^Tully My Chick
Lil sis calls me Yaya
Dancing in Public
Dream Home: Africa

Message to Readers

Did I veer too far away from the book? People kept suggesting I make it deeper and explain why I love it so much, so that's what I tried to do. Did it work?

The Simple Art of Flying | Warning in Message Box

January 19, 2021

A few books immediately come to mind when I’m asked what my favorite book is. Harry Potter. The Unwanteds. The Maze Runner. Wings of Fire. But, when I stop to think about it, there is one book that subtly rises above the others: Cory Leonardo's The Simple Art of Flying.  
   The Simple Art of Flying stars Alastair, the African grey parrot. He and two other eggs are delivered to Pete's Pet (and Parrot!) Shop- Ol' Pete hoping that the birds can give him a good buck. Alastair is the first to hatch but falls asleep to the sound of his siblings' voices in their eggs. By the time he wakes up, one of those voices has gone silent. This first day of life sets the tone for the rest of Alastair's life, as he tells himself, "I might have slept on the job once, but not again." His only goal is to take care of his remaining sister, the ever-optimistic and lovable Aggie, and take her home, "Where the sky is the bluest." But things don't turn out that way. Aggie is adopted by future-doctor Fritz, a young boy working for Pete, who carries the guilt of his grandfather's death and struggles with his father's absence, while Alastair, looking ever uglier due to his feather-picking habits, is adopted by Alberta Plopky, a lonely widow whose son lives in Florida and tries to find companionship in ever grumpier pets. Cory Leonardo's book is written beautifully; depression, anxiety, and sorrow written in the simplest of terms as well as Alastair's poetry, sprinkled with entries from Fritz's Official Medical Log, and letters From the Desk of Alberta Plopky. Yet irony, humor, and joy course throughout the book. There are other characters- like Porky, the guinea pig who doesn’t understand biology, Tiger, Alberta's grumpy cat, and Babs, an old bunny- who make the story feel real and alive. And the genre, you ask? Heart-wrenching.  
   I believe anyone and everyone should read this book. Here’s why: The Simple Art of Flying is like a drug that you can’t get enough of and will change you forever. Our world is too caught up in what’s new, hopping from one place to another, constantly trying to grab onto the tendrils of smoke that is popularity, fashion, and trendiness. We go crazy over a viral video then scream over another the next day. We drop a hundred dollars on new shoes or a new phone. We plaster our faces with make-up or edit our photos until we’re unrecognizable. We have boyfriends or girlfriends from the time we’re in elementary school. For what? To impress others? To make ourselves feel better? To find happiness? Alastair tried that. He wasn’t content with his life or his circumstances. Sadness and desperation emanated from his every pore. He craved a bluer sky and a palm tree. But he got sadder and sadder. And we see that in our culture. Suicide was the second biggest killer for 10-to-34-year-olds in 2019. 1.9 million children ages 3-17 were diagnosed with depression in 2020. It’s time we learned a lesson Alastair learned the hard way. “Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground.” Why can’t we stop and enjoy the lives we have, the circumstances we’re in? The people who could love us, the things that could make us happy, the amazing lives we could live- they’re right here. "Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground." Sometimes you end up living with an old lady who makes pies and does the tango in a red boa. Sometimes your sister is adopted by the weirdest kid in the neighborhood. But that doesn't mean you have a terrible life. That doesn't mean you can be a feather-picker. Sometimes, that means you can be happy. 
   Why? Why will The Simple Art of Flying flip your world upside down? Maybe it's because it took eight years to write, as Cory Leonardo said. Maybe it's because it was written with Christian themes in mind. But, I think, it's because of cherries. Both Alberta and Alastair have a special connection to cherries. Alberta loves to make her famous Chocolate Cherry Crumble pie. Most people know this, but if you have never eaten a cherry, I'll tell you, you can't eat the pits. Alberta has been chewing her pits for too long. So has Fritz. They must learn that you take the cherries as they come, but you also take the pits. Sometimes the pits take a while to spit it; you hold them in your mouth, not wanting to let go. You need to learn to spit them out, too. Don't spoil the big basket of cherries you have with those pits.  
   And, you see, Alastair's favorite foods are poetry and cherries. He can't get enough of both. Poetry is something he likes to savor and hang onto for a while. Cherries, on the other hand, he can wolf down in minutes, as poor Alberta finds out the hard way. In his mind, cherries are perfect. He believes there is no conceivable way that perfection can grow on a tree, as humans around him keep suggesting. One day, though, as Alastair sits with someone he never intended to sit with, in a place they never intended to live, he feels something hit his head. A cherry. He doesn't believe it at first. But then a few more hit his head. Alastair, surprised and oh so hopeful, closes his eyes, tilts his head up, and looks. He sees more cherries than he could ever eat.  
   "Sometimes cherry trees do exist.  
   Imagine that." 
So next time you’re out (with a copy of The Simple Art of Flying in tow) stop. Stop scrolling through Instagram, stop worrying about how you look, stop the fake chit-chat. Take a deep breath. Look around and enjoy the world around you. The leaves and trees. The people laughing. The breeze. Be happy. It’s what Alastair would want you to do.
Word Count: 994
Draft #: Has to be 10
Thanks: Cory Leonardo, Anne Blackwood, and AstroWriter!

What I've been doing recently is just publishing a final draft on the deadline instead of posting lots of drafts. I like that because I can see a big difference in the two (maybe three) drafts I post and can use all the reviews at once. But this is just for final comments since I changed it drastically.

It was surprisingly difficult to write this. Once I got my momentum I was good, but at the beginning there, things looked bleak. I hope it turned out nicely. 

If you want to check out this book online, I have a few links. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and eBay. Craigslist might have it too. 

Depression Statistics Everyone Should Know (
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1 Comment
  • Anne Blackwood

    Aww this is precious. I like what you added. I'm not so sure that the mention of depression and suicide was necessary though. But if you decide to keep them in, please add a trigger warning into the title (or message board; make sure to say "TW in message board" in ur title if you do that).

    over 1 year ago