Excerpt from The Way The Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Way The Crow Flies

by Ann-Marie MacDonald

The Way The Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald X
The Way The Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2003, 736 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2004, 752 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Mike, where do you think you're going?" she calls.

He ignores her. He is going on twelve.

She runs a hand through her hair the way Dad does, loving its silky shortness. A pixie cut is a far cry from a crewcut, but it's also mercifully far from the waist-length braids she endured until this spring. She accidentally cut one off during crafts in school. Maman still loves her but will probably never forgive her.

Her mother waits in the Rambler. She wears the sunglasses she got on the French Riviera last summer. She looks like a movie star. Madeleine watches her adjust the rearview mirror and freshen her lipstick. Black hair, red lips, white sunglasses. Like Jackie Kennedy -- "She copied me." Mike calls her Maman, but for Madeleine she is "Maman" at home and "Mum" in public. "Mum" is more carefree than Maman -- like penny loafers instead of Mary Janes. "Mum" goes better with "Dad." Things go better with Coke.

Her father waits with his hands in the pockets of his chinos, removes his sunglasses and squints up at the blue sky, whistling a tune through his teeth. "Smell the corn," he says. "That's the smell of pure sunshine." Madeleine puts her hands in the pockets of her short-shorts, squints up and inhales.

In the car, her mother blots her lips together, eyes on the mirror. Madeleine watches her retract the lipstick into its tube. Ladies have a lot of things which look like candy but are not.

Her mother has saved her braids. They are in a plastic bag in the silverware chest. Madeleine saw her toss the bag in there just before the movers came. Now her hair is somewhere on a moving van, rumbling toward them.

"Here you go, old buddy."

Her father hands her an ice cream cone. Mike rejoins them and takes his. He has chosen chocolate as usual. "'I'd rather fight, than switch.'"

Her father has rum 'n' raisin. Does something happen to your tastebuds when you grow up so that you like horrible flavours? Or is it particular to parents who grew up during the Depression, when an apple was a treat?

"Want a taste, sweetie?"

"Thanks, Dad."

She always takes a lick of his ice cream and says, "That's really good." Bugs Bunny would say, You lie like a rug, doc, but in a way it isn't a lie because it really is good to get ice cream with your dad. And when each of you takes a taste of the other's, it's great. So Madeleine is not really lying. Nyah, tell me anuddah one, doc.

Maman never wants a cone of her own. She will share Dad's and take bites of Mike's and Madeleine's. That's another thing that happens when you grow up; at least, it happens to a great number of mothers: they no longer choose to have an ice cream cone of their own.

Back in the car, Madeleine considers offering a lick to Bugs Bunny but doesn't wish to tempt her brother's scorn. Bugs is not a doll. He is . . . Bugs. He has seen better days, the tip of his orange carrot is worn white, but his big wise-guy eyes are still bright blue and his long ears still hold whatever position you bend them into. At the moment, his ears are twisted together like a braid down his back. Bavarian Bugs.

Her father starts the engine and tilts his cone toward her mother, who bites it, careful of her lipstick. He backs the station wagon toward the highway and makes a face when he sees that his rearview mirror is out of whack. He gives Maman a look and she makes a kiss with her red lips. He grins and shakes his head. Madeleine looks away, hoping they won't get mushy.

She contemplates her ice cream cone. Neapolitan. Where to begin? She thinks of it as "cosmopolitan"--the word her father uses to describe their family. The best of all worlds.



Outside the car windows the corn catches the sun, leafy stalks gleam in three greens. Arching oaks and elms line the curving highway, the land rolls and burgeons in a way that makes you believe that, yes, the earth is a woman, and her favorite food is corn. Tall and flexed and straining, emerald citizens. Fronds spiralling, cupping upward, swaddling the tender ears, the gift-wrapped bounty. The edible sun. The McCarthys have come home. To Canada.

From The Way The Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Overstory
    The Overstory
    by Richard Powers
    Many glowing adjectives can be used to describe a novel by Richard Powers: brilliant, moving, ...
  • Book Jacket: American Histories
    American Histories
    by John E. Wideman
    In American Histories, a collection of 21 short stories, John Edgar Wideman draws America's present ...
  • Book Jacket: I Found My Tribe
    I Found My Tribe
    by Ruth Fitzmaurice
    Ruth O'Neill was only 28 when she married film director Simon Fitzmaurice in 2004. Changing her...
  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads
    by Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil

    A riveting story of survival, and the power of stories to save us.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.