The summer between junior high and high school is going just as Keith had planned—watching cartoons, working odd jobs, and riding his bicycle. But when a friend asks for help at the local airport, the season takes a surprising turn. Instead of making a quick stop for fuel, Keith is offered a job at just thirteen years old. As the line boy at Barnes Flying Services, Keith takes on a difficult, sometimes dangerous, role.
Meanwhile, his parents are drinking and fighting hard and often. Keith does his best to stay out of their way, but doing so leaves his little brother to cope with things on his own.
Around Keith, the world is rapidly changing. His family’s views are in direct conflict with his own reality and potential. In the summer of 1971, Keith sees what his station in life really is, falls in love, and witnesses how it can bring pain and sorrow suddenly and cruelly.
But time at the airport is also full of exciting adventures, challenging work, and fascinating characters. What begins as a summer job for young Keith becomes a life-changing adventure.
Read the beginning of Line Boy...
Keith Clay has spent years trying to shake the repercussions of his parents’ destructive choices and turbulent relationship. His mother, Mildred, has always been especially difficult for Keith to understand. After spending his childhood trying to win her love and decipher her erratic behavior, Keith resents the years of pain and disappointment she’s caused him. He knows better than to expect her to change. Now an adult with a hard-won professional career and family troubles of his own, Keith hasn’t seen or spoken with his mother in years.
When Keith’s brother calls with the unexpected news that Mildred is dying, Keith is confused. At first, he feels obligated to travel across the country to be with her, but a healthy sense of self-preservation and his wife’s opposition to the idea make him hesitate. His own marriage is already on the rocks, and he knows going against his wife’s advice will cause problems. In addition, one of his best friends discourages him from reopening old wounds. Keith knows he isn’t obligated to endure more distress for a mother who has always worried solely about her own needs, but he can’t let the idea of visiting her go. Could this dying woman still mean something to Keith’s future? Is it possible that this journey could heal something within him, even if it’s too late to solve their broken relationship? Will seeing Mildred again give Keith closure or unnecessary heartache?
This moving sequel to Line Boy is cathartic and unflinching as it explores Keith’s struggle to understand his past and uncover important truths about a mother he has never truly known. Is it too late for Keith to find deeper connections to his family and fight for a brighter way forward?
Read the beginning of Who are You?