Book Review: The Paradox of Vertical Flight

The Paradox of Vertical Flight
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Release date: September 24, 2013
Genre: YA contemporary
272 pages
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

I don't know that I would have chosen this book on my own; I was swayed by some other bookish types. I am grateful, because the reading was a unique and noteworthy experience. Happily, I am running into some wonderfully unique reads lately.

It's fitting that the word paradox is in the title, since this volume is full of them: the paradox of the main character, who is a 17-year-old philosopher, at once immature and capable of advanced philosophical analysis. This main character, in the same day, experiences both the solitude and desperation of being disconnected, and the comfort and solace of dependable friendship and the fullness of love while holding his newborn son. He uses language that is vulgar to construct sentences that are full of teen boy bathroom humor, then uses advanced vocabulary to ponder the mysteries of life itself in ways that most won't be capable of even after living full lives. He steals a baby, not because he wants to keep him, but because he wants to say goodbye.

Our main character, Jack, will be a favorite with teens. He is at once lost in his world, and completely in touch with and willing to trust his instincts. I think this is a combination that is commonly found in teens, making him easy for the intended audience to identify with.

I worry that many readers will push through the philosophical discussions to get back to the action. Those who do will be missing out on an opportunity to explore some really interesting questions that can bring about clarity and self-awareness. Or confuse the snot out of the reader. Either way, thinking will be instigated, which is never a bad thing.


What happens when you put a suicidal eighteen-year-old philosophy student, his ex-girlfriend, his best friend, and his newborn baby in a truck and send them to Grandma's house? This debut novel by Emil Ostrovski will appeal to fans of John Green, Chris Crutcher, and Jay Asher.

On the morning of his eighteenth birthday, philosophy student and high school senior Jack Polovsky is somewhat seriously thinking of suicide when his cell phone rings. Jack's ex-girlfriend, Jess, has given birth, and Jack is the father. Jack hasn't spoken with Jess in about nine months—and she wants him to see the baby before he is adopted. The new teenage father kidnaps the baby, names him Socrates, stocks up on baby supplies at Wal-Mart, and hits the road with his best friend, Tommy, and the ex-girlfriend. As they head to Grandma's house (eluding the police at every turn), Jack tells baby Socrates about Homer, Troy, Aristotle, the real Socrates, and the Greek myths—because all stories spring from those stories, really. Even this one. Funny, heart-wrenching, and wholly original, this debut novel by Emil Ostrovski explores the nature of family, love, friendship, fate, fatherhood, and myth.


  1. EEwwwww. Thinking? Not so sure about that....(just kidding). Thanks for the great review. I've not seen this one before.


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