From acclaimed bestseller Jennifer Echols comes a sizzling tale of a young airplane pilot torn between two brothers
When I was fourteen, I made a decision. If I was doomed to live in a trailer park next to an airport, I could complain about the smell of the jet fuel like my mom, I could drink myself to death over the noise like everybody else, or I could learn to fly.
For Leah Jones, reality is life in a rundown trailer park with an irresponsible mother. But there’s one escape. With an after-school job at the local airstrip, she manages to afford cut-rate flight lessons. At the controls of a small plane, she leaves the trailer park far below, swooping out over the sea in the ultimate rush.
By her senior year of high school, Leah’s dreams come true: she snags a job flying for an aerial banner-advertising business. Then the owner dies suddenly, leaving everything in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she tries to stay clear of the apparently doomed business—until Grayson digs up her most damning secret. Holding it over Leah’s head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. She’s been drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.
This reading group guide forSuch a Rushincludes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Everyone needs an escape. For Leah Jones, that escape is flying. When she’s in the cockpit of a plane she can leave her troubles—her undependable mother, the fact that most of her fellow high school seniors call her trash, and the knowledge that Grayson Hall, the boy she has given her heart to, barely recognizes her existence—on the ground below. But when Mr. Hall, her flight instructor, and the only dependable adult in her life, dies unexpectedly, Leah is afraid her one escape has been ripped from her grasp forever.
When Mr. Hall’s sons—Alec and Grayson—return to the hangar to take over their father’s business, Leah’s life takes an unexpected turn. Grayson has discovered her most damning secret and uses it to blackmail her into working for him—both as a pilot and as the means to an end in a mysterious secret involving Alec. Caught between the brother she loves and the brother she is supposed to love, Leah realizes that life, like flying, is dangerous: make just one mistake and the consequences can spin out of your control.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Consider the opening paragraph of Such a Rush.What are your first impressions of Leah? Does this impression change over the course of the novel?
2. “I could not guess at Mr. Hall’s motives, but I had liked him because he was kind to me and funny, not because he gave me something I wanted. I felt guilty for putting the loss of him and the loss of my flight time into the same depressing thought.” Why does Leah equate the loss of flying with the loss of Mr. Hall? What do planes and flying represent to Leah? Is there anything else in her life that matches the feeling she has when flying?
3. Leah thinks to herself, “If Molly was going to force me to a party where the girls would call me trash, and Grayson was going to treat me that way, I would dress the part.” How much of our personalities are defined by how others see us? Do you think Leah’s rebellion against how others see her is effective? Is it constructive? Do you think, given her circumstances, the “tough girl act” is her only means of standing up for herself? Have you ever been placed in a similar situation? How did you react?
4. Molly and Leah have a strong, but very unconventional friendship. In the end, both girls realize that neither one is truly being herself out of fear of losing the other. What assumptions do Molly and Leah make about each other? Why do you think it was so hard for them to trust each other? Does their friendship remind you of any relationships in your own life?
5. “I remembered what Mr. Hall had told me when I first asked him for a lesson: the kids who watch planes are destined to be pilots. I envied Molly...she wasn’t driven toward a career that was out of her reach. But envying Molly was a dangerous road for me. I knew better than to go down it.” Do you agree with Leah? Or do you think Leah is the lucky one, to have found what she loves to do even if she has to fight to hold onto it?
6. While having dinner at Molly’s parents’ cafe, Molly asks Grayson, Alec, and Leah why they each wanted to start flying in the first place. What do Molly, Grayson, and Alec’s different answers reveal about them as characters? Do you think it is significant that both Leah and Grayson mention the “rush” that flying gives them, but Alec doesn’t? Or that Alec mentions Jake and the family business, but Grayson doesn’t? Compare, contrast, and discuss their answers.
7. Leah loves both the Hall brothers in very different ways. What are some of the characteristics Alec and Grayson share? What are some of their differences? Who do you think Leah should ultimately be with?
8. Grayson and Leah both see themselves as outsiders. Do you think that’s why they are drawn to each other? What judgments do they make about one another? How do they learn to move past those judgments?
9. Discuss Leah’s relationship with her mother. How does her mother’s attitude toward men shape Leah’s own attitude? Consider the following quote in your response: “Men always do that to women when they feel threatened. They tell everyone the woman must be giving out blow jobs because there’s no way she could be successful otherwise.” (MS-pg. 215) Do you agree with Leah’s statement? Do you think Leah accuses Grayson because this statement is true, or because of what she has learned from her mother?
10. Leah defends Mr. Hall to Grayson when Grayson gets angry about the fact that his father cheated on his mother and walked out on their family. Do you feel that sometimes we are too hard on the people we are closest to, because it is difficult to see them clearly or objectively? Do you think that Leah perhaps saw Mr. Hall for who he was better than Grayson simply because they weren’t family?
11. “That’s when I realized people use each other, Grayson. They define their relationships by what they are getting.” Do you agree or disagree with Leah’s assessment of relationships? Discuss how this perception shapes her decisions. Do you think Leah still feels this way about relationships at the end of the novel? Why or why not?
12. Leah, Grayson, and Alec’s primary motivations are rooted in their family history and their backgrounds. Leah wants to escape her past and never wants to be like her mother; Grayson feels guilty over the way he behaved when his father was alive and is determined not to let him down; and Alec is searching for a way to make his father and brother proud. Discuss the differences and similarities implicit within each character’s motivations. Did you identify with any one character in particular? Were you surprised by any of the decisions these characters made?
13. Leah, Molly, Alec, and Grayson all keep important secrets from each other in Such a Rush. Discuss these secrets and why you believe each character chose to keep secrets from one another. Were you surprised to discover that Alec had known about Grayson’s plan the entire time? Why do you think Molly didn’t tell Leah the truth about her and Alec?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Is there something in your life that means as much to you as flying does to Leah and Grayson? What are your passions? What gives you that “rush” feeling? Do you love to cook, knit, draw, write, scrapbook, run, or snowboard? Have each member in your book club share their own passions with the group. How do these activities make you feel? Why do you think you are drawn to your particular passion?
2. Leah often borrows old copies of Plane & Pilot from Hall Aviation to take home and read. Visit www.planeandpilotmag.com to learn more about the magazine Leah describes as a “delicious luxury.” Have each member choose an article to read and then plan to share an interesting fact or something you learned with the rest of the group.
3. Visit Jennifer Echols’s website at www.jennifer-echols.com to read her “Frequently Asked Questions” and her personal blog. Consider reading another novel by Jennifer Echols, such as Going Too Far or Forget You, for your next book club discussion. How do the characters and plot relate to Such a Rush? Did you notice any similar themes?
Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. Her nine romantic novels for young adults have been published in seven languages and have won the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Aspen Gold Readers’ Choice Award, the Write Touch Readers’ Award, the Beacon, and the Booksellers’ Best Award. Her novel Going Too Far was a finalist in the RITA and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son. Visit her at Jennifer-Echols.com.