Title: Full Flight
Author: Ashley Schumacher
Published: February 2022
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 5 stars
Cover: Love it
Everyone else in the tiny town of Enfield, Texas calls fall football season, but for the forty-three members of the Fighting Enfield Marching Band, it’s contest season. And for the new saxophonist Anna James, it’s her first chance to prove herself as the great musician she’s trying hard to be.
When she’s assigned a duet with mellophone player Weston Ryan, the boy her small-minded town thinks of as nothing but trouble, she’s equal parts thrilled and intimidated. But as he helps her with the duet, and she sees the smile he seems to save just for her, she can’t help but feel like she’s helping him with something too.
After her strict parents find out she’s been secretly seeing him and keep them apart, together they learn what it truly means to fight for something they love. With the marching band contest nearing, and the two falling hard for one another, the unthinkable happens, and Anna is left grappling for a way forward without Weston.
A heartbreaking novel about finding your first love and what happens when it’s over too soon. Ashley Schumacher’s Full Flight is about how first love shapes us—even after it’s gone.
Happy book birthday to Ashley Schumacher’s latest book, Full Flight! Thank you so much to Schumacher and Wednesday Books for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Go ahead and slap “Ashley Schumacher’s #1 Fan” on my forehead because I’ll never get enough of her almost poetic writing style. I can’t wait to get my copy tonight so that I can sit it next to her first book on my shelves, which is still my favorite. Just a little warning should you pick up this book (which you should, duh!), maybe don’t read the end of the book during your lunch break at work unless you have no problem blubbering in public. Learn from my mistakes.
Anna is fresh blood; she’s newer to band than all the lifer members. All the same, she is determined to work hard and do well now that her parents can financially support this hobby she’s been dreaming of, but she can’t seem to get this freaking duet right. Recognizing that Weston Ryan’s talents far surpass his lower social status, Anna begs their teacher to make Weston her duet partner/tutor, not caring what other people at the school or her parents think. He can help her get to where she needs to be. Plus, his private little smile, just for her, doesn’t hurt either.
Weston has had so many rumors started about him, he doesn’t even care. He doesn’t care that everyone, except his best friend, only sees his leather jacket he wears every day or the fact that he went to their rival school for a year. Honestly, he just has too much going on to care.
When Anna forces her friendship on him during a tumultuous time of his life, his is forced to recognize his loneliness, as well as his hurt from dealing with the breaking point of his family. Anna gives him somewhere he can finally feel like he belongs, but his fear of messing it up is fighting for the upper hand.
Schumacher is amazing at writing first love: so all consuming, so important. Weston teaches Anna the magic of music and the beauty of the perfect duet, of something created as two being made perfect in belonging. Anna teaches Weston how to find happiness in the very things that make them quirky. Even when her parents try to separate them, the two learn what it means to fight for each other. After the unthinkable happens (HOW DARE YOU, ASHLEY SCHUMACHER), Weston teaches Anna how to take the things she’s learned from being fully, completely, incandescently in love with a passionately musical boy on with her as she grieves and reorients her life.
Two things to highlight that I took away from this book. I am not a musician, I’ve never been in band, I have no experience with this topic. But the passion Weston has for music is so deeply engrained in the emotion-filled writing that I wanted to learn just as much as Anna. I wanted to hear everything about why and how music can be so incredibly special. Secondly, the book ends with unanswered questions about a specific character (trying not to be spoilery here), but it doesn’t feel incomplete. It works. So often we are touched by people in our lives even when we don’t have the whole picture of who they are.
Schumacher writes a beautiful portrait of a deep longing to belong somewhere painted on a backdrop of a perfect duet. I seriously can NOT get enough of her magical, emotional writing style, even as heartbreaking as her stories can be. Can we hurry up to her next book release please? Asking for a friend.