The Flight of a Starling

      Publisher: Electric Monkey 

      RRP: £7.99

      Author: Lisa Heathfield 

      Published:  2017-07-03




Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wing – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.

Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?


A well written, cautionary tale for the modern teen.


This Young Adult title from an award nominated author Lisa Heathfield is the tale of outsiders. Rita and Lo are happy being part of a small, close knit family circus, travelling the UK and entertaining the “flatties”. The divisions are clear; circus folk belong with circus folk, flatties with flatties. They belong in their own little world; while to the paying customers they are both entertaining and strange, they are nonetheless outsiders with their own customs, beliefs, and ways of doing things.

Most readers will be able to identify with the feelings of Lo; wondering what is beyond the confines of their own bubble, wanting more, wanting to explore, wanting to experience the alien and the forbidden. The Flight of a Starling is the tale of what happens when events collide; when teenage rebellion collides with the foundations of our world, our sense of self, being truly rocked.

The narrative alternates between the first person perspective of each sister. At the outset, this can be a little confusing; the two girls are very alike and in tune with one another, as they must be to perform as a trapeze act together. As the story progresses, however, readers are able to follow the sisters as they drift apart; as Lo discovers that her life is not the idyll she’d always thought, and that the adults in her life aren’t infallible. As the world of the circus begins to fall apart for Lo, the audience experiences the growing hurt and confusion the changes in her provoke in Rita.  For the first time secrets come between the siblings as Lo begins to contemplate what life might be like as a flattie.

The Flight of the Starling is a tale of young love, questioning and wanting to belong which, ultimately, has a heart-breaking ending. A cautionary tale of how badly things can go wrong when we only belong in one world, and that world begins to crumble around us. The narrative tackles difficult themes, which some audiences may find distressing, and is a highly emotional experience to read; it serves to remind adults what it is like to feel like we belong nowhere and remind to teens that, no matter how displaced, lost or lonely they feel, they will eventually find their place in the world. As a result, Lisa Heathfield’s novel emerges as a compelling warning for young adults, and one which is as equally as absorbing to the older reader.