Margaret Peterson Haddix
A journey to the center of their hearts. Ever since their father's sudden death eight years ago, Chuck and Lori's mom has spent most of her time on the road as a motivational speaker, leaving them and their younger siblings in the care of their grandparents. But this trip is different; this time, their mother has invited Chuck and Lori along in an attempt to reconnect with her eldest -- and now most distant -- children.
Lori is so angry with her mother for her constant absence she can barely look at her, and Chuck, as usual, tries to make himself invisible. From the start the trip seems doomed. But slowly, walls built up over the years begin to show cracks. Laser-sharp glares are finally and painfully turned inward. And in the end secrets are finally revealed -- secrets that will change all of their lives forever....
So. This author is a friggin' genius and I've thought so since I read Among the Hidden in 4th grade. Since then I've read a number of her other books and most of them seem to have the same kind of theme. A different kind of world, whether in the future, an experimental enclosure, or some faraway fictional country (fantasy). Takeoffs and Landings takes place today (well, more or less. 2001) and is about regular kids who live in a regular place. I was overjoyed to see that Margaret Haddix did as much as a good job as she always does.
I really loved this book. It was sad and hopeful and pretty emotional most of the time but it was never cheesy or stupid. Poor Chuck and Lori had it rough. Their dad dies of an accident when they were little and then their mother starts to travel so much they never see her. I really empathized with Lori. I also have a lot of little siblings (thank god) and I would resent my mother had she left me, too. As for Chuck, my heart broke for him. Considered fat and stupid, he has not an ounce of confidence or self respect. As you read, you discover more and more about the incident and what led to the anger, guilt and ignorance that the characters feel toward each other and it shows you what damage not talking about something can do.
The point of view alternates between Chuck, Lori and their mom, which i felt was important to the plot because it was centered around the family, not one particular member. It was a beautiful read, really recommended. Grade: 80%