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Literature / The Girl Who Could Fly

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The Girl Who Could Fly is a book by Victoria Forester that starts out with your typical farm girl in your typical Midwestern town. Her hobbies include milking cows, speaking in a Funetik Aksent, and practicing her flying skills. Wait, what?

It's Little House on the Prairie meets X-Men (or inFAMOUS: Second Son if that floats your boat). The story follows Piper McCloud from birth, where her family discovers that she can float. Her parents try to keep her from the other children and convince her that floating is bad, but an insatiable curiosity soon grips hold of her, and one day she jumps off the roof to try flying. Luckily, she succeeds. It's not long before word gets out, and we learn that a town that could, as far as we know, be in the 1860s is still in the modern age as a helicopter arrives to take her to the Institute of Normalcy, Stability, And Non-Exceptionality. Just look at the acronym if the name doesn't convey the intention well enough.

A sequel, The Boy Who Knew Everything, was released in 2015. Another sequel, The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky, was released in 2020.


  • Alliterative Name: Pretty much everyone in Lowland County apart from Piper and her family have alliterative names (Junie Jane, Millie Mae, Sally Sue)
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Piper is very lonely in Lowland County, thanks to her parent's insistence that she keep her powers secret.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Millie Mae is mentioned to have kicked her dog for no reason other than she could, and she's a gossip hound who spreads rumors about Piper to ostracize her and bully Betty.
  • Blue Blood: Conrad is from a very wealthy old-money family, and his father eventually becomes the President.
  • Boomerang Bigot:
    • Dr. Hellion is obsessed with turning powered kids normal, but she can fly.
    • Conrad's father lashes out against anything abnormal, even though he has powers and was born in a village of similar people. It's due to years of brainwashing. He does a 180 once he's free of that.
  • Break the Cutie: Piper. She is tortured for weeks and when she is seen again, has broken legs and has been brainwashed. She gets better.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • INSANE's plan is to do this to every creature with superpowers using physical and psychological torture. It works with Bella and Piper, though in her case it is reversed.
    • Piper undergoes this in The Girl who Fell out of the Sky. She is stung by a giant bug, the main threat of the story, and the venom messes up her DNA to take away her Flight.
  • Cain and Abel: The mysterious J. is the Abel to Dr. Hellion's Cain. He has been trying to stop her from destroying all that's extraordinary from its onset.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Dr. Hellion breaks Piper's legs and mindwipes her through torture.
    • The rest of the creatures in INSANE get tortured, as they cannot be psychologically broken.
  • Commonality Connection: Piper and Sally Sue bond over strawberry ice cream. Unfortunately, Piper flying in front of the whole town undoes the potential friendship.
  • Compelling Voice: Peter/Conrad Harrington Sr.'s power.
  • Covers Always Lie: Inverted in one of the mainstream covers which features Piper flying while Dr. Hellion pursues her and gives away a major plot twist. Of course, you could assume that it was a metaphor for Dr. Hellion holding the children down, or that she was just hanging on to Piper.
  • Disney Villain Death: Dr. Hellion allows herself to fall and drops into the mountains, where it's very unlikely she survived.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Conrad's reaction to having his project changed.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Bella can produce a rainbow.
  • False Utopia: In The Boy Who Knew Everything, the kids discover Xanthia, a hidden refuge for special people, animals and plants. Unfortunately, children who turn thirteen and show no signs of powers get their memories of Xanthia erased and thrown out into the mundane world. What's even worse is it was founded by the man who originally spread mistrust between normal people and abnormal people. He uses it as his personal pantry of superpowered women to make Tyke Bombs with.
  • Flight: Piper can fly. While it makes her a pariah in Lowland County, she is considered exceptional even among other superpowered children. Dr. Hellion has this power too, but she suppressed it after causing her sister's death.
  • Foil: The McClouds and the Millers. Both are farming families who believe in the Good Old Ways, but Betty and Joe are willing to expand their horizons for Piper's sake. Dick and Millie Mae, on the other hand, are hateful and small-minded people who are determined to see their children grow up to be the same.
  • Freudian Excuse: Dr. Hellion used to fly, until she accidentally dropped her sister in a storm and killed her. She suppressed the memory, which turned into a violent hatred of all things special.
  • Funetik Aksent:
    • Professor Mumbleby has a thick German accent, and it makes him hard to understand.
    • Piper has a southern accent, and uses many odd colloquialisms in the book.
  • Gruesome Grandparent: The Big Bad of the second book is Conrad's grandfather, Max, who wants to use his grandson's brilliant mind for his own ends.
  • Happily Adopted: At the end of the book, Betty and Joe take in Conrad.
  • Healing Hands: Jasper discovers his hands have healing powers when he heals Piper's legs.
  • The Hedonist: Max takes this trope to disturbing heights. He's thousands of years old, so everything the world has to offer is very "been there, done that" to him. His eternal youth is also powered by human suffering. The result is a raging sociopath who gets his adrenaline fix masterminding nationwide disasters.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Piper's powers made her a pariah in Lowland County. She is delighted to make friends at INSANE.
  • In Another Man's Shoes: The Miller children have always parroted their mother and bullied Piper for being different. When two of the brothers, Jimmy Joe and Rory Ray, take a trip to Xanthia, being mistreated as Outsiders makes them realize how stupid it is to blindly hate people they know nothing about.
  • Innocent Bigot: AnnA and pretty much all of Xanthia have been raised on horror stories that paint the world outside as a savage hellscape. It's small wonder they assume the worst of strangers.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Conrad's an Insufferable Genius, but he really wants to stop Dr. Hellion from removing their powers.
  • Kill the Cutie: Sebastian, the cute cricket Piper saves from the lab, is killed by Dr. Hellion.
  • Love at First Sight: Boris to Lily.
  • Meaningful Name: One of the best-known light aircraft is the Piper Cub. Piper's last name, McCloud, is even more blatant.
  • Meaningful Rename: Conrad agrees to give up his last name after his parents disown him.
  • Mind over Matter: Lily has telekinetic abilities.
  • Mundane Solution: After all the elaborate plans to break out, Piper and the others just go to Dr. Hellion's office and let her know they are taking over the facility. They then lock up the guards, rescue and heal the other organisms, and let themselves out. It's pretty hard to stop a bunch of superpowered kids, after all.
  • Mundane Utility: Discussed when the kids decide what they want to do with their powers when they grow up. Most want to do things that would end up on this page, although Smitty does want to go into crime-fighting (as a detective, which his X-Ray Vision would be useful for). The epilogue reveals that many of the kids are at these jobs.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Would you really expect anything good from a woman named Dr. Hellion?
    • Doubles with Fun with Acronyms: I.N.S.A.N.E, or the Institute of Normality, Stability, And Non- Exceptionality, wants to remove powers from all powered creatures — a rather insane goal.
  • Never My Fault: A rare sympathetic case; The loss of her sister was so traumatic that young Letitia Hellion couldn't wrap her head around the fact it was their own fault. The only thing she could accept was blaming her powers.
  • No One Could Survive That!: After seemingly falling to her death, Dr. Hellion is revealed to have survived in the sequel.
  • The Noun Who Verbed: The title is The Girl who Could Fly.
  • Parental Abandonment: Conrad's parents were wealthy and villainous, and disowned Conrad for his power.
  • Personality Powers:
    • Piper, the idealist, can fly.
    • The extremely shy Violet literally shrinks smaller and smaller the shyer she feels.
  • Pink Is for Sissies: Junie Jane is not a soft girl: she hates pink.
  • Power of Friendship: Piper is delighted with getting along with the other children at the institute.
  • Principles Zealot: The golden rule of Xanthia is "Chosen Ones = good, Outsiders = bad," and no one holds the sentiment closer to heart than the ruling council of elders.
  • Punny Name: A lot. Names tend to reflect personalities or powers.
    • Piper McCloud (flying)
    • Bella Lovely (positivity)
    • Violet (shrinks when embarrassed)
  • Shrinking Violet: A very literal example with Violet. Violet is an extremely shy girl who even shrinks when embarrassed.
  • Shock and Awe: Kimber's power is shooting lightening out of her hands.
  • Taken for Granite: Boris can turn people and things to dirt.
  • Too Clever by Half: Conrad reflects on the fact that for all his intelligence, he has information rather than answers, and his Insufferable Genius nature prevents him from seeing the answers.
  • Tragic Monster: The giant bugs in The Girl who Fell out of the Sky. They threaten the world by releasing an EMP-like signal when they explode, but only because Max infected them with a virus that holds them back from shedding their skins. This leaves the bugs in perpetual agony.
  • Twin Banter: Nalen and Ahmed Mustafa. They are identical twins, banter a lot and are always Finishing Each Other's Sentences.
  • Weather Manipulation: Nalen and Ahmed can create storms.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Piper.
  • Wonder Child: Not overtly, but Betty McCloud does suddenly become pregnant with Piper after her child bearing years, which is the first sign of Piper being an abnormal child. In the third book, this is repeated with Piper's new sister Jane.
  • Worthy Opponent: Lily regards Piper as this when the latter puts two and two together and manages to foil a prank involving a glass full of water.
  • Youthful Freckles: Piper is a small girl and has freckles. She doesn't like them.