On a morning that begins with a suicide fantasy, Jack Polovsky’s ex-girlfriend calls him from the hospital. She’s having their baby and giving him up for adoption. This is Jack’s only chance to meet his son and say goodbye. At first Jack doesn’t think it matters, but the more he thinks about it, the more realizes he wants to say to his son. In a moment part panic, part impulse, and part desperation, he snatches the baby from the hospital and hits the road. He grabs the appropriate baby paraphernalia and finds himself on the run from the police, trying to buy enough time to tell his son (whom he names Socrates) all the things he’ll need to know. He teams up with his best friend Tommy and with Jess, his ex-girlfriend and the baby’s mom, on a journey to visit his grandmother, to say goodbye.
I read this book because I’d been asked to participate in a blog tour for Emil Ostrovski’s sophomore novel Away We Go later this spring, and I’d gone to his blog to find out more about him as an author. When I read the blog post about the release of The Paradox of Vertical Flight, I was completely hooked. I went immediately to Amazon, bought the book and read it that night.
I’m a huge sucker for books with witty dialogue, and this one totally delivers it. I loved the characters, from Jack to his friends, the strangers they meet along the journey and his sweet grandmother with dementia. I loved that this story features issues about teen parenthood from the often-overlooked father’s point-of-view. I loved how tender Jack was toward his son. So neat.
Some reviews and comments compare this book to books by John Green and other authors. I think in terms of the quirkiness and wit of the writing, yes, absolutely. I thought that Paradox of Vertical Flight wasn’t as dark as Green tends to be, though. I really liked it a lot. It’s a great pick for fans of contemporary teen fiction looking for books with unique storylines and great, fun writing.
Extreme profanity used moderately.
Jack’s (recently ex)-girlfriend is pregnant, so obviously they’ve had sex. There are a couple of brief references to the experience, but it’s not described in a full-on scene. Jack wants to kiss her, remembers kissing her. He flirts with his best friend Tommy. Their relationship remains just friends though.
There’s a lot of philosophical discussion—from the allegory of the cave to Schroedinger’s cat. At one point the group goes to a church, though it’s unclear what Jack’s really looking for. It’s not Jesus per se. More the idea that there are things he wants his son to be open to exploring, or wants to feel like he has imparted an openness to exploring to his son?
Jack recalls spending time drinking alcohol with Jess. He finds a bottle of tequila and shares it with his friends during their trip.