4 out of 4 stars
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Matt Lavery is a pilot at "South Tropic Airways." He is not satisfied with his job, as he works countless hours and has to deal with his boss cutting corners consistently. He, however, draws the line and quits his job after he finds machine gun bullets smuggled aboard an airplane he flew. He finally lands a better job at "Arkansas Airways." However, the economic climate of the country and the poor treatment of pilots present challenges for Matt. He also has to deal with his constant inability to seize moments to achieve his heart desires, especially in the romance department. How does Matt handle these challenges and face his fears? Willard Howe's Sticks in the Clouds provides answers to this question.
Told in the third-person perspective, Sticks in the Clouds is a historical fiction story set in the late 1900s and, through its characters, explores living in America under President Jimmy Carter's and President Ronald Reagan's reigns. The author also incorporates Cuban history, from their fight for independence to living under Fidel Castro and how the citizens of Cuba were affected over this period. This book was very educational for the most part, as I got to learn a lot about a lot of historical events while I read.
Picking up this book, I wasn't particularly sure what to expect. The opening chapter excited me because I felt that Matt would be drawn into the dangerous world involving guns after he found machine gun bullets. However, Matt quickly distanced himself from that life, and the suspense level and pace of the story dropped while I joined Matt on his self-discovery journey. While I was a bit disappointed about this, the story had much to offer and was brilliantly executed. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars, even though I have some minor complaints.
The book explores themes of friendship, faith, love, endurance, and seizing moments. One of my favorite parts of the novel revolved around Matt's encounters with his previous love interest, Karen, and Olga, who he was attracted to later on. These relationships were not only fun to see, but they helped in unlocking new levels to Matt's character growth, especially with respect to his bravery and faith. Willard Howe also does a fantastic job in his descriptive writing to paint clear pictures of what that era felt like, characters' emotions, and even characters' physical features. This feature also extends to the author's exploration of a pilot's experiences. I did get lost a couple of times when he went into detail about how flights are operated, but I mostly enjoyed his accurate descriptions and could see that he had some experience in that field or had done a lot of research.
Furthermore, Sticks in the Clouds is a well-edited book. I found just one punctuation error while reading, and this ensured that my reading was seamless throughout. The story also comes together well to produce a satisfying, albeit rushed, ending. I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction novels. Romance lovers may also find some parts of the book engaging to follow, even though sexual content is almost non-existent.
Sticks in the Clouds
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