By Lisa Howorth
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Hardcover, 9781620403013, 325pp.
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Mary Byrd Thornton could understand how a reporter couldn't resist the story: a nine-year-old boy sexually molested and killed on Mother's Day, 1966. A suspect to whom nothing would stick. A neighborhood riddled with secrets. No one, especially the bungling or complicit authorities, had been able to solve the crime. Now, thirty years later, the reporter's call will reel a reluctant Mary Byrd from Mississippi back to Virginia where she must confront her family-and, once again, the murder's irremovable stain of tragedy.
Lisa Howorth's remarkable "Flying Shoes" is a work of fiction, but the murder is based on the still-unsolved case of her stepbrother, a front page story in the "Washington Post." And yet this is not a crime novel; it is an honest and luminous story of a particular time and place in the South, where even calamitous weather can be a character, everyone has a story, and all are inextricably entwined. With a flamboyant cast, splendid dark humor, a potent sense of history, and a shocking true story at its heart, "Flying Shoes" is a rich and candid novel from a fresh new voice about family and memory and one woman's flight from a wounded past.
“Like all great stories from Mississippi, Flying Shoes never proceeds in a straight line. It twists and turns in order to notice what matters most in life, and then delivers us to exactly where we need to be. Those of us who have waited a long time for this book celebrate its arrival.” —Ann Patchett, author of This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and State of Wonder “Lisa Howorth's dazzling verbal wit almost stops you in your tracks while you are flying along in this delicious prose. It is a scream—also heartbreaking, saucy, sassy, poignant, and triumphant. Mary Byrd is a bold, kooky, quirky character I won't forget. It has been a long time since I read a novel with such charm, generosity, humor, daring, and brilliance. It is just splendid.” —Bobbie Ann Mason, author of In Country and The Girl in the Blue Beret “Lisa Howorth's Flying Shoes braids a love knot of new South, old South, and haunted South that catches at the reader's heart, even as the humor and sadness of her rollicking prose has us slipping off our own shoes and moving to the music of her voice. Flying Shoes is exhilarating and brave, full of love and grief and the journeys we all make from past to present.” —Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Quiet Dell and Lark and Termite "[A] buzz-worthy debut." —Booklist