Flight Risk

About the book

Lake Union Press, November 2021

Isabel Morales is a successful Chicago sculptor hiding a brutal family history―one not even her husband knows. After decades of turning her back on her past, she’s forced to return to Appalachia when she receives news of her estranged mother’s death.

But going back means revisiting the traumatic childhood she escaped―and the family that cast her out when she needed them most. Back on the land she has inherited, she’s flooded with memories of the forest where she once roamed free, of her beloved lost brother, and of the old house in the West Virginia hills where she grew up. Her mother has left her another legacy, too, which reveals secrets that Isabel is only beginning to understand…


“The author skillfully builds the tension and anticipation with artful prose…[T]he characters and emotions portrayed make this well worth reading.” ―Booklist

“Joy Castro writes with a balanced urgency―elegant sentences tempered with grace and intelligence, clear and gripping character arcs and story lines―and with a depth and dimension that leans into the transformative.”
―Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas and Song for Night

“Joy Castro’s writing is like watching an Acapulco cliff diver. It takes my breath away every time.” ―Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

“Funny, sexy, and transfixing, Joy Castro’s Flight Risk is a meditation on love, marriage, art, family, womanhood―and therefore, life itself. Castro skillfully builds tension, and the slow intensity with which the plot’s arc forms gives the novel its exquisite and powerful impact.” ―Chigozie Obioma, author of the Booker-short-listed novel An Orchestra of Minorities

“Completely captivating. Part Patricia Highsmith, part Mexican Gothic, part Daphne du Maurier, Joy Castro’s Flight Risk is my favorite kind of story: one in which an outsider, dodging and weaving among insiders, stirs up tension, intrigue, and suspicion. With raw energy and sharp storytelling, Flight Risk is a novel about light and shadow, and I found myself craving its every twist.” ―Timothy Schaffert, author of The Perfume Thief

“From the stunning opening lines of Joy Castro’s Flight Risk, we know we’re in the hands of a master storyteller, and it held me captive until the final page. With writing so evocative I could taste her words, Castro has wrought a sharply observed love story with a social conscience―an investigation of class, family, and the many ways we get each other wrong.” ―Jennifer Steil, author of Exile Music

Flight Risk is a compelling, gritty portrait of class in America. Joy Castro traffics the rural-urban divide with complexity and compassion. The protagonist, Isabel Morales, an outsider turned artist, guides the reader through poverty, wealth, and the beating heart of our political divide as she reclaims her roots in coal-country West Virginia while reconciling the privileged life she’s built in Chicago. This is outlaw fiction at its best.” ―Melissa Scholes Young, author of The Hive

“A deftly intelligent literary thriller, Flight Risk is that rarest of beasts―beautifully written yet a real page-turner, too. Wonderful.” ―S. J. Watson, author of the international bestseller Before I Go to Sleep