If you’re looking for a short but hugely satisfying, authentic story of contemporary family life for your book group to get stuck into, you’d do well to consider Lynn Steger Strong’s Flight, which recently swept us into its beautiful, soaring wings.
Centred around a set of siblings and their fractious first Christmas after losing their mother, Flight boasts brilliant observations of family life, sibling strife and motherhood as it presents an incisive portrait of modern America. At once universal, and enlivened by remarkable detail, it also features an edge-of-your-seat, race against time search for a missing girl.
1. Discuss the significance of the title. Why is it suitable?
2. What are the overriding themes of Flight? What do you think the author was trying to show and say?
3. Consider Kate, Tess, Alice and Quinn’s relationship to motherhood. Consider what kind of mother Helen was, as viewed by the different family members. What does the novel say about modern motherhood? Why does Kate feel “shame” for “only” wanting to be a mother?
4. “I need to feel close to her in some way. I need that house more than the birds do.”
Why do you think Kate thinks she has a greater claim to Helen’s house? Does she?
5. “She was brilliant, pretty, special, privileged, regardless of her skin color.”
Discuss Alice’s experiences and frustrations as a Black artist, and as the daughter of a wealthy Black banker and white woman. How does the novel explore themes of class, privilege and race?
6. Did you relate to the family, or any character in particular?
7. Discuss the author’s integration of Quinn and Maddie’s story to story of the siblings’ Christmas gatherings.
8. What message did you take from the final scenes of the novel? Did the ending shift your opinion of the novel’s themes, or how you felt about the novel?