Learning to Fly
By April Henry
(Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 9780312290528, 288pp.)
Publication Date: May 2002
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Nineteen-year-old Free Meeker has a shaved head, a nose ring, and a tattoo of Chinese characters around her biceps. She has a career, if you can call it that, as a pet groomer. And she has just learned that she is pregnant, and that her boyfriend is a two-timing bastard.
Then a disastrous highway pile-up erroneously adds her name to its list of victims - and hands Free a chance for a new life. In the chaos of the fiery accident, she acquired the identity papers of the hitchhiker who is mistaken for her - plus a gym bag filled with $740,000 in drug money that otherwise would have been burned up. Go, Free, go!
Free sets out to transform herself into Lydia, the sweet-faced girl whose identity she has assumed. Raised by aging hippies, Free has always secretly longed to be more "normal," to try shaving her underarms instead of her head. Now she has a chance to make herself over.
But Free doesn't know that two men are hot on her trail. One man wants the money back. If he doesn't get it soon, he knows he will end up dead. The other man wants his wife back. He doesn't know the real Lydia died in the accident, on the run from his pathological abuse. Now he is determined to "teach her a lesson" - even if the lesson is fatal.
As Free/Lydia settles into a new life full of possibilities, she is completely unaware that it is threatened by resourceful pursuers who are closing in on her.
April Henry lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young daughter. Her previous jobs include German translator, cook, housekeeper, hospital admitting clerk, life drawing model, and a brief stint as the girl who jumps out of a cake. April's first book, Circles of Confusion, was short-listed for the Agatha Award and the Anthony Award, wa selected for the Booksense 76, and was nominated for the Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Award. It was the first (and to date, only) mystery chosen for the Oregonian Book Club, a state-wide reading group.
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