By Harley Nefe
The first book I had the opportunity to read this year was Kimberley Jochl’s newest novel, “Hardly Easy,” and once I started reading it, it was an engaging story that was difficult to put down. In fact, I read it in one sitting in just a few hours.
“Hardly Easy” is a young adult novel that follows Charlotte “Charlie” Henson, who fell in love with flying on her twelfth birthday when her uncle took her and her twin sister, Anastasia or Annie, up in his plane. Since that experience, Charlie has only had her eyes on becoming a future Navy pilot.
Now that Charlie is 16, she is old enough to take flying lessons in order to work toward receiving her pilot’s license. However, this task is not simple. Charlie has to overcome the conflict with her father in how he forbids her to fly, she has to find the funds to be able to afford the flying lessons, and the flying lessons themselves are not effortless. In fact, almost everything Charlie faces is hardly easy.
However, with the help and support of her sister, mother and friends including McQueen, an attractive student at the school who has his pilot’s license, Charlie is able to overcome the odds and remains determined to conquer her dreams, even when disaster strikes.
Being a young adult novel, “Hardly Easy” carries a lot of common characteristics of the genre. For example, the protagonist is a teenager, and the story is told from the viewpoint and in the voice of the young adult often in school. The events in the book also revolve around Charlie and the struggle to resolve conflict, especially with her father. These traits of the novel help appeal the story to young audiences by making it relatable.
That being said, because the book follows a lot of the same patterns as other young adult literature, the plot also becomes slightly predictable at times. However, what makes this book stand out to others in the same genre is the topic at hand. There are not many young adult novels, that I know of, that are about a teenager taking an aviation class in high school and working toward receiving a pilot’s license. However, it should be noted that throughout the book, there is a lot of flying terminology and jargon of the particular topic that sometimes made it difficult to fully understand for a reader with limited aviation knowledge. More so, with the distinct subject matter, it makes the story less realistic to the average person. Overall though, this subject is different when compared to other young adult stories, and surely readers will be entertained by the uniqueness.
The author of the book, Kimberley Jochl, earned her own private pilot’s license, according to her bio, and it’s interesting to see that knowledge from real life experiences be shaped into the story. In addition, there are other aspects of the book that connect to Jochl’s life. The story takes place in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, and Jochl and her family also reside in the High Country. As mentioned earlier, Charlie has a twin, and Jochl herself has a twin. Another connection that can be made between the story and Jochl’s life is skiing in how there are a few skiing scenes in the book, and Jochl has a history of skiing and is Vice President at Sugar Mountain Resort.
For young adults looking for a new read that is special and takes you on a journey, this is the story for you. Sometimes the pacing of events moved a little fast, and the transitions seemed to be abrupt. However, it kept the story going and me as the reader involved, even to the point where I wish certain scenes could have been expanded on, and I wanted more.
Similar to flying, “Hardly Easy” is exhilarating. The book also shares a strong theme of courage and perseverance. More so, the message of the novel is inspiring for readers, as it tells the importance of never giving up on one’s dreams, and that anything can be possible. Lastly, it empowers readers, as it shows that they, too, can overcome any challenges that may arise, and they shouldn’t let any fear or obstacles stand in their way from achieving their goals.
Copies of “Hardly Easy” are available at local retailers across the High Country including:
- Fred’s General Mercantile in Beech Mountain
- Tri-City Aviation Inc. at the Tri-Cities Airport in east Tennessee
- Grandfather Mountain
- Mast General Store
It will also be available for purchase online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. For more information, visit the author’s website at http://www.kimberleyjochl.com/hardly-easy/. The official release date of the book is Tuesday, January 12, 2021.