Content Warning: This book touches on sensitive subject matter that some may find difficult to read.
In the follow-up to her debut, The Ones We Choose, Julie Clark has written a page-turning, twist filled novel. The story follows two women, Claire and Eva, each trying to escape their lives and find a fresh start. After a chance meeting in an airport bar, the two make a split-second decision that changes both their lives forever. They switch places, Claire to Oakland and Eva to Puerto Rico. The plan seems like the perfect escape for both women, but that all changes when the flight to Puerto Rico crashes.
From the outside looking in Claire’s marriage to Rory Cook, the son of a well-known senator, is perfect. She married into a political dynasty, they live in an expensive townhouse in Manhattan, and money is no issue. However, from the inside Claire is isolated and every move is a constant battle because she is scrutinized and surrounded by people loyal to the Cook family. Every misstep gets back to Rory and Claire is berated and physically abused. She spends a year concocting a plan of escape with the help of her childhood friend, Petra. When the day finally arrives, a last-minute schedule change wrecks her plan.
Eva is a twenty-something recently expelled from Berkeley after she was caught making drugs in the chemistry lab for her athlete boyfriend, Wade. She thought Wade would stand up for her and take some or all the blame, but he stood quietly by and let her suffer the consequences. Enter Dex, a drug dealer that offers Eva a lifeline at her most vulnerable moment. She begins working for Dex’s boss, Fish, and finds the financial freedom she so desperately needed. One day Eva notices a man following her and soon learns that he is a federal agent and she is confronted with a choice – help Agent Castro apprehend Fish or go to jail.
The story alternates between Claire in the present and Eva in the past. The transition between the rotating points of view is seamless and shows how Eva’s past decisions effect Claire’s decisions now. By providing a glance into Eva’s past she becomes a more sympathetic character. Like many children today, Eva grew up in foster care with the cards stacked against her. It is an all too familiar story – kid grows up in foster care, kid has limited options, kid ages out of foster care, and kid turns to a life of crime as a means of survival. Another common theme explored in the book is domestic abuse, which has never been more relevant than in the past few years. Many women are trapped in abusive relationships with no way out. Most women do not have the means or options that were available to Claire. It was nice to see Claire’s resilience, but at the same time it seemed disconnected from reality.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Flight’s quick pace and nail-biting moments. Julie Clark did a wonderful job writing relatable characters and touching on issues that plague our society. As mentioned above, Claire’s story occasionally felt detached from reality, but it was necessary to create the level of suspense in this book. I was happy with the ending and appreciated the epilogue answering my one lingering question. This is a great summer read to enjoy by the pool or cozied up on the couch.
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