04/25/2013 04:57 pm ET Updated Jun 25, 2013

Kristin Hannah's Fly Away Overdoes the Gloom and Doom

One of Kristin Hannah's most popular novels was Firefly Lane, the story of two friends named Tully and Kate. Now Hannah has written a sequel to that successful story and it is titled Fly Away. Whereas the first book was a celebration of life and friendship, the new book is about the aftermath of a death and is too much of a downer. You trudge through these pages rather than "fly away."

Fly Away is basically the story of Tallulah "Tully" Hart. It is now four years since her best friend Kate's death and she is still suffering from the loss. She is trying to be a good friend to Kate's husband, Johnny, and Kate's children, a daughter named Marah and twin boys Wills and Lucas, but they seem to drifting away from her.

Marah is at an age when she can be independent and she demands that her father and Tully give her some freedom. This results in chaos but when Tully tries to help Johnny appears to resent it. He gathers his children around him and forces Tully out of their inner circle.

Most of this story is told in flashbacks that fill in the blanks between the time of Kate's death and Tully's life four years later. A few flashbacks are acceptable. Still when just about everything is told in one flashback or another then the reader begins to get whiplash and ends up having a hard time sorting out the time frames of what is occurring.

The same is true of the gloom and doom that surrounds Tully's life. She is on a downward spiral where everything keeps getting worse and worse both personally and professionally. She alienates Johnny, Marah, her mother and just about everyone else she knows. She put her career on hold when Kate was sick and now can't seem to get it started again. All of this gloom makes the story difficult to absorb. A few bright spots along the way would have helped immensely.

Still Hannah has not lost her skills as a novelist. She knows her characters through and through, especially the tragic Tully. Hannah captures with her words and phrases the essence of this character and makes her live and breathe on the pages. That is what makes the story so heartbreaking. The readers feel Tully's agony and are with her throughout these dark days.

Fly Away is a novel that will touch the hearts of all who pick it up and digest its pages, but it certainly would have been nice to have a break from the tragedies every once in a while. Instead they just all pile on as one sad event follows another.

Fly Away is published by St Martin's Press. It contains 416 pages and sells for $27.99.

Jackie K Cooper