One of the brightest points of indie publishing is the availability of memoirs by and about so-called ordinary people. They aren’t celebrities. They aren’t oddities. They haven’t undergone trauma or survived and overcome incredible odds against them. The only once-in-a-lifetime adventure they’ve had is the same one we’ve all had: they’ve had a life.
The major publishers have always considered that not much of a selling point, but a life well told is riveting, and that’s what The Sky Behind Me is.
Edgington begins with the realization, as he steps out of a helicopter cockpit, that he has made his last flight.
You get through the next minute, hang up a phone, watch a train
pull away, a face at a window—or close a cockpit door and walk
away, and you just know. As much as you ache for it not to be true,
It’s done, and you know it. Something in your life is finished forever.
If that doesn’t make you want to read on, I don’t know what would!
Through the course of the book, Edgington takes us through the seeds of his love of flying helicopters and of his devotion to the well-being of his fellows, through early disappointments, and into the jobs that enabled him to fulfill both those loves.
My criteria for a good book are: It must be technically clean (spelling, punctuation, grammar), it must be stylish (whether transparent style or effectively odd), and it must immerse me in its world. The Sky Behind Me meets all these requirements AND HOW!
I’m an overage hippie peace freak, but I flew with Edgington and his buddies in Vietnam during this book, and came away with enormous respect for them and for their experiences.
I shivered through Iowa winters on medical evacuation flights.
I understood the difference a good, independently minded, thoughtful pilot can make to a business trip that can either be routine or disastrous.
I delighted in taking tours of Kauai, Hawaii, and enjoyed seeing how a perceptive pilot/guide can turn a simple tour into a life-enhancing event.
At last, my heart broke when Edgington realized he could never safely fly again.
My only quibbles with the book were: 1) Chapters 29 and 30 seemed too much. Edgington made his case throughout the book, establishing without overstatement how deeply entwined his life and his profession were; more was unnecessary; he should trust his talent and not restate it. 2) I wanted to know what he’s up to now! Can he co-pilot? How does he feed his soul and his devotion to helping others if he’s grounded?
Wonderful book. Highly recommended.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character can suddenly not do something that a part of their identity, the very fabric of their being.