A flight attendant with a complicated sense of self gets an opportunity that most in the industry only dream of; a 24 hour layover in the tropical paradise of Belize. It’s almost too good to be true, so it’s safe to say all doesn’t go as planned and the protagonist is in for a trip to remember. It’s also safe to say that Lacie Waldon tells the tale with style and sass in her new novel The Layover.
The star of the show is Ava, short for Aviana, one vertically-challenged but verbally-charged 28-year-old (and recently engaged) employee of Northeast Air. The streamlined life of a stewardess suits her … to a certain extent. Since childhood, she’s had parents with an irritatingly immature (but often amusing) tendency to wander off, and that nomadic existence has left her with some baggage she doesn’t want to claim. But it’s almost all packed away for good; her fiance Alexander is a straight-laced lawyer who wants to give her the finer things in life, including the chance to settle down and quit her job. Ava’s certainly looking forward to it.
ONE LAST FLIGHT BEFORE THE GROUNDING OF STABILITY
On her final flight, though, she’s annoyed to be paired with her antagonizing coworker Jack Stone, a “unicorn” male flight attendant, and someone who possesses all the qualities she’s escaping in marrying Alexander. Can she get through this last mission without biting off Jack’s head? Can she actually enjoy her swan song without his presence ruining the getaway? And can she maybe even learn to give him a second chance, if he even deserves it in the first place?
Take a brief departure (see what I did there? So many flight-related puns to make, so little time!) from Ava and Jack’s bickering and banter, and you’ll land on some well-crafted plotlines and character development. Just consider the third flight attendant, Gen, whose zany escapades win you over and, yes, make you worry over her, but all in the spirit of true affection. Meanwhile, the opposite goes for the grizzled Captain Ballinger, whose personality is as frigid as Belize is warm. Or is it? It seems like everything isn’t what it seems at first glance.
One of the best parts of this book is the glimpse into the life of a flight attendant, sometimes romantic, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes frustrating, and always fun to discover more about. You know it’s legitimate when the author herself shares the same call of duty as her main character.
COLOR AND CHARISMA
If the novel were a color, it would be impossible to pick just one; it showcases an iridescent rainbow of encounters and encapsulates a broad spectrum of human emotions. A joke made is closely followed by a vulnerable disclosure, or maybe an offhand comment is what incites an investigation of strengths and weaknesses. Mistakes are made, apologies accepted, and assumptions amended, all while admitting the reality of unanswerable questions and the far-reaching impact of wounding experiences.
If you’re looking for true crime or gritty drama, however, you’re in the wrong spot; hope rolls around again after the waves of distress crest and fall. As Ava eventually realizes, “Today. That’s what it always comes down to, isn’t it? The choice to live life for today or the future. But what is the future, really? Does it even exist? I keep trying to reach it but every time I wake up, it’s today again.”
The novel is steeped in sunshine, shaded by palm trees, and splashed with turquoise Caribbean sea water. The whole thing is as bright and breezy a summer rom-com as you could ask for, including loveable characters and lust-worthy locales (and lust-worthy characters, too, now that I think about it.) With sparkling and witty banter that reliably descends into perfectly relatable awkwardness at just the right moments, The Layover should be the book you pick up when you put down your poolside pina colada.