Book Review: Unaccompanied Minor


By Hollis Gillespie

256 pages

Publishing Info: On November 18th, 2013 by Merit Press

Genre: YA contemporary, Action, Mystery, Humour, Crime

Book Summary (from Goodreads): Fourteen-year-old April Mae Manning spent her life on airplanes with her flight attendant parents. When her father dies in a crash, April’s mom marries a pilot who turns out to be an abusive jerk, and gets Mom confined to a psychiatric hospital. So April takes off, literally, living on airplanes, using her mother’s flight benefits, relying on the flight crews who know she’s been shuttling between divorcing parents for a year. Then, there’s a hijacking and April flees to the cargo hold with her friend, who is also unaccompanied minor , and they fight to thwart the hijackers, faking a fire, making weapons from things they find in luggage. At last, locked in the cockpit with a wounded police officer, the boy, and his service dog, April tries to remember everything her parents said to do in a crisis above the clouds. But she knows it won’t be enough.

“We see things differently.”

April (and her parent’s co-parenting counselor) pg 11

What made me “yay” and what made me “nae”


I chose this book purely because of its cover (and the fact that I recently rode a plane). When I read the summary, I was intrigued. Hijackers? Making weapons? Doing the impossible? Sure, why not?

I wasn’t disappointed. The book did start off a bit confusing though, with April Mae Manning (Mae with an ‘e’, not a “y”, as she clarifies at the beginning) being interrogated. However, as the book goes on, I was more and more immersed and enchanted with the story. April is very funny and her nattering style later makes her an enchanting narrator as well.

Born into a family of airplane engineers, mechanics, baggage handlers and flight attendants, she knows a lot about planes. And when I say a lot, I really mean it. This girl is like a walking encyclopedia of airplane knowledge (from model and make to “legacies”: changes, made after every aviation disaster), and comes off as natural (so kudos to the author for that interesting detail). I swear, her family could be real.

April is a chatterbox, and although she did get on my nerves at first, I got used to her.

WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW THIS? But by the end I really did enjoy it.

Her habit of commenting at the beginning of the book made situations later so much funnier. She is oddly relatable; even though I’m pretty sure I’m not half as cool as her. She also carries much disdain for adults who refuse to listen as usual which is definitely something I enjoyed. (Like that  feeling you get when adults are proven wrong.) She even has an obsession with crime shows and serial killers (which I share and find morbidly interesting).

One thing I didn’t enjoy in the story was the fact that no major explanations were given until the end. So while reading it, you really really really want to know why something happened or how, but nothing is revealed until the end. Although, the way everything was tied together made up for it.

Her explanations and descriptions made me see things in a new light (I’m never gonna ignore the safety video ever again) and made other things seem ridiculous. She also gives great and humourous advice, such as “Mom’s Top Twenty Ways to Keep Your Young Ass from Gettin’ Killed” and “Mom’s List of Five great Make-Do weapons on an Aircraft” (but I swear, her mom is not insane). How to avoid a suspicious police officer, make a glow-soda stick using Mountain Dew (I’m never drinking that again) and how to break through a cockpit are also included, as well as getting out of zip ties and throwing dead bodies off airplanes. A well rounded book, wouldn’t you agree? It will teach you everything you have ever wanted to know…

Except for dougie-ing. She doesn’t nae nae either.

(All this does sound spoiler-ish, but she basically tells you all this at the beginning).

And yes, while all of this sounds inane and implausible, it makes for a great read (and the amount of details makes you feel as if this could really happen.) However, it is a lighter read, and I think some people would classify this as a middle grade read. I found it very entertaining, but for those people looking for a serious read, look elsewhere. And if you do have a severe phobia of being on a plane (and imagine everything that could possibly go wrong on a plane), skip this one because everything that can go wrong, does.

And to honor my newest favourite book heroine, I will make a list (because she loves lists).

Mom’s Top Four Ways To Entertain Yourself (On a Plane or otherwise)

  1. Read this book. (Sort of morbid if you actually are on a plane, but hey, if something happens, your last book will be this masterpiece!)
  2. Look up the facts in this book. A lot of them are true (I didn’t have time to fact check the whole book, peeps), and goes the show the dedication of the author. YOU GO HOLLIS GILLESPIE!
  3. Try to make the weapons made in this book (DISCLAIMER: I AIN’T RESPONSIBLE IF YOU GO AND TAKE ME SERIOUSLY.)
  4. Read this book and the next one! Get ready to laugh 😉
  5. (Unlocked: Plane Challenge) When on a Plane, take a page of how various planes crashed (the more recent the better) and discuss them with your neighbour at a loud volume. (Warning: be prepared for dirty looks)
  6. (Unlocked 2: PC) WATCH THE SAFETY VIDEO. In all seriousness, this could save your life.

I just realised that this review and book could be seen as insensitive after the slew of plane crashes (Germanwing, Malaysia), but really, this ‘insider’ look into airplanes showed my why some of the safety procedures (which I always thought were annoying and pointless) are actually important. So our hearts go out to everyone who died and their family members <3.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

~ Sarah 🙂

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