Book Review: The Year I Flew Away by Mary Arnold

March 6, 2022

Nowadays, being a child in middle school can be hard. But imagine if you don’t speak the language, your skin color is dark and your hair doesn’t flow like other girl’s hair does when the wind blows. I can’t help but feel sorry for Gabrielle, the main character of Marie Arnold’s novel “The Year I Flew Away.”


As Gabrielle’s story starts, you are introduced to her in the beautiful country of Haiti. Haiti is picturesque, has warm sunny days and where time goes by slowly on its pristine beaches. At least that is what any tourist would think if they thought of Haiti.  Life in Haiti was a bit different for Gabrielle. In Haiti, everyone wants their children to go to America because in America everyone is rich.The streets of America are filled with people who are beautiful inside and out. So, Gabriella is excited that she is going to America. Unfortunately, her happiness is short-lived – she has to go without her parents. Money is tight and they will have to follow Gabrielle soon.


From her homeland of Haiti to Brooklyn, New York, Gabrielle has to live with an uncle, aunt and cousins that she doesn’t even know. Twin boy cousins and an Americanized teen girl cousin.  Life is not what she expected. If you throw in a wicked witch, an all-knowing teacher from Haiti, a brown skin girl who turns out to be a best friend and a boy who can get his hands on anything for the right price. This story becomes a whirlwind.  Full of life lessons, magic wishes, the fate of the world and a 10-year-old girl just trying to make it in a new country – there is something in this story for everyone. 


In honor of inclusivity and Black Heritage Month, get your feet wet in the wonderful story of coming of age, learning that you are the best version of yourself as you are and do not let anything change who you are. Real friends will always be there and will always be willing to help you, but most importantly – love you for who you are.  


Arnold turns an almost autobiographical story into this rich tale that draws the reader in.  Cleanse your mind with this short, quick, yet meaningful story of a different way of life that is not as different as you think. I give this wonderful little book five bookmarks. You are going to love it.

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