Flying through Clouds

Written by Michelle Morgan
Review by Meg Wiviott

Soon-to-be fourteen-year-old Joe wants to be an aviator. He dreams of flying through clouds like his hero Smithy, Australia’s great aviator, Charles Kingsford Smith. Achieving one’s dreams is difficult for a boy growing up in Glebe, a tough suburb of Sydney, during the 1930s. Joe’s parents forbid him to fly; Mum fears for his safety and Dad needs him to work in the family business—illegal bookmaking. Parental disapproval is not Joe’s only obstacle, however. Flying lessons cost money, and during the Depression money is hard to come by. School, and the school principal in particular (who happens to be Joe’s girlfriend’s father), offers more challenges. Still, Joe makes a plan and sticks to it. He does not give up.

Morgan deftly places the reader in the time and place of the story. Historical details read as authentic, though occasionally like an historical checklist. The plot is good; Joe knows what he wants and goes after it, facing many difficulties along the way. Unfortunately, there are threads in the story that do not carry all the way through, characters who appear and disappear conveniently. The ending, though inevitable, feels convenient; not so much the “what” of it but the “how,” given inconsistencies in some characters. While intended for young adult readers, the simple sentence structure and content might appeal to younger readers, nine to twelve years old, especially those interested in flying.