Girl on a Plane
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Raincoast Books
By Miriam Moss
age 13 to 18
Synopsis from Raincoast Books:
Bahrain, 1970. After a summer spent with her family, fifteen-year-old Anna is flying back to boarding school in England when her plane is hijacked by Palestinian terrorists and taken to the Jordanian desert. Demands are issued. If they are not met, the terrorists will blow up the plane, killing all hostages. The heat becomes unbearable; food and water supplies dwindle. All alone, Anna begins to face the possibility that she may never see her family again. Inspired by true events, this is astory about real people facing horror with courage and resilience.
Although the premise of Girl on a Plane (affiliate link), a story based on the 1970 Palestinian hijacking event, may not be the first thing to cone to mind when considering a book for your teen. However some teens are drawn to non-fiction based books.
Anna is put in a position no parent would wish on his or her child. Being hijacked as a family would be scary but at least Anna could turn to her parents to lookout for her; she could relax a little under her parent’s protection. Being on a hijacked plane when traveling alone as a teen is far scarier.
Although the story focuses on Anna, we’re invited into her family life at the beginning, to understand the relationship she has with her parents and younger brother. Occasionally we take a jump back to Anna’s family to see their reaction or concern based on the unfolding news.
The story tries to build the tension felt by the passengers and staff with the hijacker confrontations on the plane but it falls a little flat. You still experience mood shifts or feel for the position Anna and the other passengers are put in. I just didn’t feel as much angst and worry as you would expect from the situation. You do see the passengers reactions, feelings, and behaviours with each other and when the hijackers are involved. At moments you almost forget that Anna is held against her will on the plane as she and the passengers share stories, sing, play games and strike up casual conversation. This is broken with bursts of reality through threats, media appearances, and flashes of weapons and explosives.
I do like that Anna as the lead exhibits a number of mature traits, an important message for teens. She balances her fear and uncertainty by playing the guardian role with a young boy who sits beside her. Girl on a Plane will appeal to teens interested in a more non-fiction story. Perhaps this will drive an interest to researching the original story.
You can get an inside at this book in the following video review, published within our