When Gianna wakes up on a cloud, she is disoriented yet fascinated. She thinks she’s only dreaming until she gets a storm of paper planes—”They’re thoughts of people who remember,” a man on another cloud tells her—each pleading for her not to leave. The man tells her these planes are the key to get out of there, and while she thinks it’s hard to believe, she decides everything is worth trying if it meant finding her way back home.
Once I started reading Paper Planes Back Home by Tara Frejas, I couldn’t put it down. There were many emotions and thoughts running through me as I flipped from one page to another—yes, I bought the paperback version from Tara herself. My excuse was that I needed it as required reading for #romanceclass2016, but even before that, I knew I had to read the book based on the cover photo and the blurb.
First, there was the concept of the clouds and the messages people in limbo receive from people back in the real world. That they arrive as paper planes with varying strengths just moved me to tears. Some planes tear easily, and some just are strong enough to take us back home. Such is true in life, some people’s love and emotions or sentiments for us are stronger than others.
I have explored the concept of a “Limbo” or an “In-Between” several times in short stories I have written in the past, so reading Tara’s version was a bit like coming home for me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with happiness that someone else shared this recurring vision of mine. I just love the thought that loved ones’ prayers and thoughts can either bring us back home, or help us move on to the next plane of existence.
Second, the characters were very interesting and fully fleshed out.
Third, the stories and situations just get you in their grips and never let you go until you reach the conclusion. The story arc involving Gianna, Aaron and Ricky, in itself is a classic—the choice between family responsibility and all-consuming love. Tara wrote Gianna, Ricky and her family as Koreans, so she was able to use her fascination for the Korean culture in this book. I love that Aaron is a blonde blue-eyed New Yorker, who would stop at nothing to let Gianna know how much he loves her.
The story with Anna (and Chace) and Skylar (and Jeannie) brought me a lot of heartaches and tears. It’s never easy losing someone you love—whether through death, betrayal or others—and sometimes it is difficult to move on with your life after such a devastating loss. I felt for Anna. I felt for Skylar. And I also felt for Jeannie.
But my favorite story and setting would have to be in the clouds, with Gianna and Skylar striking a beautiful friendship that enables them to take the next step in their journey. Most of my tears fell when little Jessie joined them in the clouds. His paper planes were numerous but the strongest of them were from his mother. As a mother to three kids, one a boy the same age as Jessie, this just hit very close to my heart.
What also made me feel great about this book is that, even if it doesn’t have a single Filipino character and all the settings are outside of the Philippines, the characters and settings all feel authentic. This is truly a book that can be read and appreciated anywhere in the world.
This is the second book written by Tara that I’ve read, and the recurring Korean theme was not lost on me. But what was even more apparent is this—Tara is an extremely talented writer and a down-to-earth person. Her book Paper Planes Back Home is a gem! I would highly recommend it. It is one of those books that I just had to have in my hand, and not just on my phone. It is that good.
About the Author
Tara Frejas is a cloud-walker who needs caffeine to fuel her travels. By day, she works in project management and events, and she writes down her daydreams at night. She began publishing fiction for public consumption in 2004, posting her pieces on various online channels like fan forums and Blogspot, eventually exploring other avenues like Livejournal, Soomp!, Tumblr, and most recently, Wattpad.
Aside from her obvious love affair with words and persistent muses, Tara is very passionate about being caffeinated, musical theatre, certain genres of music, dancing, dogs, good food, and romancing Norae, her ukelele. She owns a 6-month-old male bunny named Max who sometimes tries to nibble on her writing notes.