I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Girl on a Plane by Miriam Moss
Release date: September 13th, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction
Bahrain, 1970. After a summer spent with her family, fifteen-year-old Anna is flying back to boarding school in England when her plane is hijacked by Palestinian terrorists and taken to the Jordanian desert. Demands are issued. If they are not met, the terrorists will blow up the plane, killing all hostages. The heat becomes unbearable; food and water supplies dwindle. All alone, Anna begins to face the possibility that she may never see her family again.
Believe it or not, but I actually read this book while on a flight. Yup, probably not the best choice of reading material but a girl has got to clear her ever growing NetGallery list somehow right?
I requested this book on NetGalley because it’s a topic I know very little about. I’ve studied Palestine extensively in university and the liberation of Palestine is a subject I’m very passionate about. However, the plane hijackings by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in the 1970s slipped through the cracks.
The book also stood out because while it’s a work of fiction, it’s based on real events that the author lived through. Between the harrowing topic, complex politics and real life events this book could have been amazing but in the end fell a bit flat. I can best sum it up as alright. I totally expected more.
The story begins with Anna boarding a flight to London from Bahrain. She’s heading back to attend boarding school. Everything is going smoothly until the pilot announces that the plane has been hijacked by members of the PFLP. The plane is diverted to Lebanon and then to an abandoned airstrip in the Jordanian desert. There the passengers are given very little food and water, exposed to the extreme elements of the desert and are in constant fear of being killed if the British government didn’t give into the demands of the hijackers.
This book was written at a fast pace, although the final few chapters felt longer than necessary. I read through it in one sitting mostly due to the fact that it features short chapters and easy prose. It’s style is more middle grade than young adult but due to the topic I can see why it’s aimed at an older age group.
What bothered me about this book was how I couldn’t connect or identify with any of the characters. I read on because I wanted to know what would happen and not because I cared about Anna. Her voice fell flat and forced at times, too much like an adult and not a 15 year old. At the end of the novel I knew I should have felt more for her when she struggled to come to terms with what happened to her…but I didn’t. I need books with characters I can become deeply connected to. I NEED TO FEEL THEIR PAIN, FEAR, WHATEVER! Sadly, this didn’t happen. With such a traumatic event such as this one, I should have felt something.
I’ve rated this book a 3 out of 5 mainly because while I didn’t connect with it, it’s not a bad read. My main criticism is very subjective. I’ve read other reviews where people have loved the book and the characters. The topic is very interesting and one that is relevant to what is happening in the world today. If you do pick this book up, I’d love to know your thoughts!