Fly Away Home
When Sylvie Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips, and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician’s wife—her hair dyed and straightened, her hippie-chick wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator.
Lizzie, the Woodruffs’ younger daughter, is, at twenty-four, a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control. Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achieve—a husband, a young son, the perfect home—and yet she’s trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER’s exam rooms, she finds herself craving more.
After Richard’s extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be.
Written with an irresistible blend of heartbreak and hilarity, Fly Away Home is an unforgettable story of a mother and two daughters who after a lifetime of distance finally learn to find refuge in one another.
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Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. One of Lizzie’s counselors in Minnesota suggests that she uses her camera as a distancing strategy, saying, “If you’re taking pictures, it takes you out of the story . . . it turns you into an observer instead of a participant.” Lizzie instead thinks that her camera offers her a role as the family historian. Which do you think is true, and why?
2. Both Diana and Richard are involved in extramarital affairs with people that they meet at work. Did you judge them and their actions differently? If so, can you explain why?
3. The mother-daughter relationship is central to Fly Away Home. Discuss how the female characters reacted against their mothers in their own life choices.
4. Flight and escape are recurrent themes in the novel. In contrast, HALT is the mantra Lizzie learns in rehab to help her address addictive behaviors. What do you think the author is saying about coping mechanisms? In which instances do these seem to be healthy and effect see more