We'll Fly Away
National Book Award Longlist Title * Booklist Editors’ Choice * CYBILS Young Adult Fiction Finalist * Nerdy Book Club Award for Best Young Adult Fiction * Paste Magazine Best Book * YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
“A compelling and raw story.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[Bliss dares] his readers not only to see the depths of human complexity, but to care.”—Booklist (starred review)
Luke and Toby have always had each other’s backs. But then one choice—or maybe it is a series of choices—sets them down an irrevocable path. We’ll Fly Away weaves together Luke and Toby’s senior year of high school with letters Luke writes to Toby later—from death row.
Best friends since childhood, Luke and Toby have dreamed of one thing: getting out of their dead-end town. Soon they finally will, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, never looking back. If they don’t drift apart first. If Toby’s abusive dad, or Luke’s unreliable mom, or anything else their complicated lives throw at them doesn’t get in the way.
Tense and emotional, this hard-hitting novel explores family abuse, sex, love, and friendship, and how far people will go to protect those they love. For fans of Jason Reynolds, Marieke Nijkamp, and NPR’s Serial podcast.
Praise for We’ll Fly Away:
"Bryan Bliss has written an empathetic and stirring novel about what it means to fight for the outcasts, the forgotten, and even the hated, reminding us that we all have worth. That we are all valuable."—Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking
“A poignant story of loyalty, abuse, and poverty. . . . This compassionate and beautifully rendered novel packs an emotional punch.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A smart, rugged, all-too-true story of friendship under fire. Believable characters and page-turning tension.”—Chris Crutcher, author of Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
“This fast-paced read will have teens tearing through chapters to find out why Luke is in jail. . . . The conclusion will leave them devastated. This is [a] touching book about male friendship for fans of Jason Reynolds.”—School Library Journal
“The unshakable and unconditional bond between the young men is tested and proves true, a ray of light in the darkness of their stories.”—VOYA
Before Luke ended up on death row, he and his best friend Toby dreamed of escaping rural North Carolina in a beat-up crop duster that they discovered in a wooded area. Alternating between third-person chronicles of Luke and Toby's senior year of high school and Luke's letters to his friend from behind bars, Bliss weaves together a compelling and raw story. Luke was a wrestling champion with a mother who wasn't responsible enough to get to work or feed her family. Toby was a smart kid hiding the bruises from his abusive and drunk father. With hard-hitting authenticity, Bliss conveys both the typical dilemmas of adolescence as well as the more sobering and life-altering moments that Toby and Luke are unfairly forced to confront. At its core, Bliss's story is a meditation on choices including the momentary lapses of judgment that can derail whole lives, raising the question of whether a single event can or should define an individual. A powerful story of loyalty, betrayal, and crippling family dysfunction. Ages 14 up.