Ellen Lopez-Rourke is determined to spend every moment of the last summer before college with her two best friends, Melissa and Xiumiao. But all that changes when, after one too many sociopolitical arguments with her stepmother, Ellen finds herself grounded. With Melissa’s help, Ellen negotiates an exception to her house arrest: joining a local league of Quidditch players.
Never interested in sports until they became her last resort, Ellen isn’t sure what to expect when Melissa invites her to join the league and try playing the game based on a fictional sport from the world of Harry Potter. But as her relationships with her family and and her friends become increasingly complicated, Ellen finds herself becoming deeply ingrained in the inclusive community of Quidditch players. Her on-field confidence in her role as a beater (a defensive position) grows, and she begins to recognize that she’s found a home on the pitch. Even though the brooms don’t actually fly, it still feels a little bit like magic.
Anna Meriano’s first young adult novel, This Is How We Fly, transforms “Cinderella” into a coming-of-age story about a young woman who movingly navigates difficult family dynamics and searches for an outlet for her own fears and frustrations—about her friendships, her gender identity and the state of the world. Meriano’s teen characters are dimensional and ready to fly off the page on their PVC-pipe brooms, though the same can’t be said for the adults in the book, particularly Connie, Ellen’s stepmother. The diverse cast of characters authentically reflect the reality of teen lives in 2020, and their interests in and perspectives on political and social issues including global climate change, racial inequality and gender norms feel fresh and contemporary.
Wrapped around all of this is what feels like a glowing love letter to fan culture as Ellen and her new friends immerse themselves in a community that originated from a shared enthusiasm for Harry Potter. This Is How We Fly testifies to the power of fans to breathe new life into stories beyond the pages of books or the wildest dreams of their creators.