Flight opens with a scene that is not at all uncommon: an exhausted young mother brushes off her husband’s amorous advances and slips deeper into sleep. But what comes next sets the nightmarish tone for the rest of the book: rather than sulking or feeling resigned, the husband, Kent, douses his wife, Emily, with a jug of cold water. (And not with just any jug. He takes the time and energy to retrieve the fancy crystal jug from the top shelf of the china cabinet.)
As shocking as this treatment may be, it is trifle compared to some of the physical and mental abuse that Emily has suffered over the years. She has finally stored up the nerve and resources needed to take her two young children and leave the man she has come to despise and fear. This story takes the reader through Emily’s final five days in her old life.
First-time novelist Darren Hynes cleverly underscores Emily’s plight by mirroring her grim reality in the situation in her hometown of Lightning Cove, Newfoundland where the fish plant is slated for closure. Hynes is able to develop Kent into a character who is more than a cardboard bogeyman by showing him as a compassionate and competent manager at the plant.
Emily’s escape is complicated by her exhaustion, by her fear and by the people around her such as her smitten boss, Terry, and her sullen pre-teen son Jeremy—a boy who already shows signs that the cycle of abuse may indeed be unbreakable. She comes very close to exposing her secrets and plans, but manages to carry out her flight from Lightning Cove. Yet the question remains at the end of the novel: what will become of Emily and her children? —Kate Watson