Leah Jones has lived her entire life in an endless series of trailer parks, all of them situated next door to an airbase or small town airport. She and her shiftless mother moved to their most recent abode at Heaven Beach when Leah was 14 years old. Shortly thereafter she bullies the owner of nearby Hall Aviation to give her a job in the front office, fielding calls and basically doing anything that needs doing around the private airport. From afar, she watches Mr. Hall's twin sons Alec and Grayson follow in their father's footsteps, first learning to fly and then taking on jobs flying advertising banners around the North Carolina coastline. Leah watches and she longs and she saves her money against the day she is able to scrabble together enough courage to ask Mr. Hall for a flying lesson. Sure he will laugh in her face, she is stunned when he takes her up on it, provided she give up smoking like a chimney stack. It's not even a contest for Leah, and before she knows it she's up in the air and never looks back. Until tragedy strikes and threatens to make the one good thing in Leah's life disappear overnight. Suddenly, Alec and Grayson are back in her life and she's forced to learn to work with these mercurial young men if she wants to keep being a pilot in her future.
Leah rocked my socks off. She is the kind of character I can't get enough of: toughened by life, uncertain, determined, quiet, hopeful, and edgy. Basically, she's a heady amalgam of battle-tested strength and fledgling individuality. I love the way she loves flying. She explains it in a scene that quite simply floored me with how restrained and potent it was, with how much was going on below the surface of things. I won't quote that here, because you deserve to come to it organically and on your own. I will share one bit to give you an inkling of why I feel so attached to these characters:
"When I'm with you," he began again, "it's like . . . I still don't feel normal. But I can see normal at twelve o'clock on the horizon." He pointed past me through the windshield of an imaginary airplane. "At least I know normal is still out there."This tiny snippet of dialogue encapsulates the kind of exquisite tension, filled with so much more than heat, between two characters that Jennifer Echols excels at. The scope of this novel is much greater than I was expecting, and every bit of that is down to the gorgeous descriptions of flying. These characters, they love flying. They love it with every fiber of their being, and it binds them together when anger, betrayal, and the almost unbreachable gulf of experience threaten to separate them. These kids are all forced to be adults long before they're ready. They make mistakes, bad choices, engage in the occasional excess of drama. One of them persists in his particularly bad choice so long I'm still not sure I can forgive him for it. But they are all of them laid out in such layers of gray that I wanted to. In fact, I ended the novel on that note--wanting to forgive him, wanting the ending to be enough because it was what I wanted for them. Sometimes that desire is enough in and of itself, especially as the journey itself was such a satisfying one, filled with the swoops and the heights and the glorious dangers of aviation. My stomach dropped out beneath me on multiple occasions, and I relished every time it did because it meant I was with Leah in that cockpit. I was with her every time she let the pressure constantly building inside of her out to pelt the people around her who needed a rude awakening to reality. I was with her when she took the controls to chart her own course, to find it somewhere out there on the horizon. Well done, Ms. Echols. Such a Rush indeed.
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A Book and a Latte - "A must read for contemporary romance fans!"
The Book Scoop - "I was so freaking satisfied with everything that I'd read that I sighed myself to sleep."
Clear Eyes, Full Shelves - "Such a Rush is probably my new favorite of her novels because the character growth from everyone is just so deft."
Gone with the Words - "Never have I read a book whose book title delivered in spades. Such a Rush: you betcha!"
GReads! - " . . . the best of the best in YA contemporary."
Pirate Penguin's Reads - "Jennifer Echols knocked it out of the park with Such a Rush."