Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review: Escape to the Sky by Don Fink

I've been reading a lot of Indie-published books lately. Some are poorly written. (Those I don't finish and never write about.) Some are ripping good entertainment.  Escape to the Sky is a ripping good read. Thought I'd share it with you.

Take a farm boy from Michigan, teach him to fly biplanes, watch him dream of adventures well away from the upper plains and you have the mixture for Don Fink's Escape to the Sky.

In 1936, Ben Findlay becomes a ramp monkey at a local air field. For him, the excitement of watching the planes and the romantic demeanor of the pilots captures his imagination. Soon, he trades work on the ramp for flying lessons in an old Spearman biplane. He turns out to be a natural, mastering rolls and barnstorming tricks. During his second year he is approached by a recruiter looking for pilots to fly for the Republicans in Spain against Franco's forces. Before his eighteenth birthday, Ben is training for aerial combat against the Condor Legion supported by Nazi Germany.

Ben's coming-of-age story is set against this backdrop of war. Initially, a naive boy looking for thrills, he learns that loyalty to country and crew are more important that thrills. When the Republicans fall, Ben and his best friend flee into France and ultimately on to England. There, Ben joins the RAF. Already an ace pilot, his skills are quickly put to work fighting the Germans. When the Battle for Britain begins, Ben flies multiple sorties on a daily basis.

The flying sequences are full of action. Ben and the rest of the characters are fully drawn and believable. The end feels rushed, but still wraps up all major threads. A good book for anyone interested in flying, combat and aerial dog fights.


  1. I always love reading your book reviews. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for your message. Have you read lots of picture books? It's an excellent way to get a really good feel for what works. And it's worth checking out the recent ones (so you could go into a bookshop and read through lots of them -very carefully of course!). And if you buy some that you think are great, or get some really good ones out of the library, try typing them out and looking at them as manuscripts so you can see where the page turns happen and the shape of the story. That can really help give you a feel for it. I would really recommend joining SCBWI and there are all sorts of events where you can learn from other authors and editors and agents. We've got critique groups which can be extremely valuable in helping you make your story the very best it can be. My latest post is all about feedback on your writing, which might help (click on my name on the right hand side of the blog and it'll come up). And don't worry about your story not coming out perfect first time round: it often takes lots and lots of editing to get it right.
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