Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Flight #116 Is Down

Flight #116 Is Down

Caroline B. Cooney
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 1997   ISBN: 978-0590444798

One cold icy night Heidi Landseth is out walking one of the family dogs when the most incredible thing happens – a 747 airplane crashes into the woods next to her house. Her parents are both on business trips and sixteen-year-old Heidi is alone at Dove House except for the elderly house keeper. At first Heidi is paralyzed by the horror of what she is seeing but she manages to make the vital 911 call and then she finds herself working, working hard to help the injured get away from the wreck of the plane and into the warmth and safety of her large country home. For the first time in her life Heidi takes charge and she finds an inner strength to do what needs to be done.

Seventeen-year old Patrick is a trainee EMT and he is the first on the scene. The sheer numbers of wounded at first leaves him feeling overwhelmed, But he manages to get himself moving and after that his training kicks in. He does his best to get as many of the passengers into the house as he can, comforting those who are still trapped in the plane and telling Heidi what to do when she seems at a loss. Patrick cannot help feeling guilty because he always hoped that a large scale event would occur so that he could finally get to test his skills. However, now that it has actually happened, he realizes that disasters of this kind are all about people. As he helps little Teddy whose leg is horrible injured and as he tries to comfort Daniel who is trapped inside the plane, Patrick gets a different perspective on what being an EMT is all about.

Told from the point of view of multiple characters both on the ground and in the plane, this unique title is gripping, moving, and thought provoking. Naturally the experiences that they go through have a profound effect on the characters in the story and it is interesting to see how much they change in just a day. The author builds up the momentum in her story by switching her narrative frequently from person to person, and it is almost as if we are behind a movie camera looking at them for a moment or two before we go on to the next person. The effect it interesting and memorable.