"Landing Gear" by Kate Pullinger

Spring 2010.  Ash from a volcano in Iceland has closed the airspace over Europe.  With most of her colleagues in local radio stranded abroad, Harriet jumps at the opportunity to further her career.  But a chance encounter with a man from her past ruins everything.  Meanwhile, Harriet’s husband Michael is stuck in Toronto and staying with an old flame, while their teenage son Jack who is off from school and on his own finds himself in a lot of trouble.  Emily is a young television researcher who has just lost her father to a heart attack.  And Yacub is a migrant worker from Pakistan, stranded in a labour camp in Dubai after the project he is working on goes bust.

Fast forward two years and all of these lives come crashing together when Yacub falls out of the landing gear of an airplane and lands on Harriet’s car in a supermarket parking lot.

Landing Gear, by Kate Pullinger, is an intriguing page-turner that brings many aspects of modern society - the internet, airplanes, immigration, the nuclear family - together.  Based on a newspaper article written a decade ago about a stowaway who fell from a plane and landed in a supermarket parking lot, the book explores what would happen if a stowaway survives and in doing so weaves together the complexities of modern life.

Right from the first page of this book I was hooked.  A stowaway falling from a plane, that’s the type of story I’d want to read in the newspaper.  And the volcanic eruption of 2010 had me wondering what our skies would be like if all of the planes were grounded.  But mostly, I was intrigued by the writing style.  Short chapters, different points of view, and parts where the thoughts of three different characters are unfolding all on the same page, this is a well-written and unique novel.  I love the way the stories, the characters, and their secrets all unfolded throughout the book, just the right amount of information to keep you going.

I enjoyed reading the stories of all these characters and really liked how they were all weaved together, to form a unique family in a sense.  I’ll admit that I found the reactions of Yacub and Harriet odd when Yacub fell from the sky, but other than that, everything comes together nicely.  The themes of falling, landing, and taking risks run throughout the book in a creative way.  I just love the way everyones lives intersect and how their stories move along.  There was no one character I wanted to read more or less than the others.

I had a hard time putting this book down to go to bed.  As soon as I woke up, I had to finish it.  It flows which makes it easy to read.  I recommend this as one of springs top reads and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it appear on many end of the year or awards lists.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.


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