Fly Back, Agnes

  • Interest Level: Grade 5 - Grade 8
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

A heartfelt story that sensitively tackles the everyday inner turmoil of growing up and staying true to oneself.

Twelve-year-old Agnes hates everything about her life: her name, her parents’ divorce, her best friend’s abandonment, her changing body . . . . So while staying with her dad over the summer, she decides to become someone else. She tells people she meets that her name is Chloe, she’s fourteen, her parents are married, and she’s a dancer and actor—just the life she wants.

But Agnes’s fibs quickly stack up and start to complicate her new friendships, especially with Fin, whose mysterious relative runs a local raptor rehab center that fascinates Agnes. The birds, given time and care, heal and fly back home. Agnes, too, wants to get back to wherever she truly belongs. But first she must come to see the good in her real life, however flawed and messy it is, and be honest with her friends, her family, and herself.

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Interest Level Grade 5 - Grade 8
Reading Level Grade 4
Category SEL: A Self-Awareness, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: D Relationship Skills, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2020
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 296
Publication Date 2020-03-03
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV039140, JUV013020, JUV039020
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.25 x 7.5
Lexile 720
Guided Reading Level Z
ATOS Reading Level 4.8
Accelerated Reader® Points 8.0
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, and Reviewed

Author: Elizabeth Atkinson

Elizabeth Atkinson has been an editor, a children's librarian, an English teacher, and a newspaper columnist. She lives in Newburyport, MA. Visit her at


  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2021



“Place this with books like Karen Rivers’ A Possibility of Whales (2018) and Kim Harrington’s Revenge of the Red Club (2019).”—Booklist

School Library Journal

“Issues of peer acceptance, popularity, and the repercussions of divorce are delicately explored in this sweet and tender tale. Will resonate with middle grade and early high school students, especially those at a crossroads in their lives.”—School Library Journal

Blythe Woolston

“Agnes’s story is full of revelations. The truth is delicate and durable—and different than it appears.”—Blythe Woolston, author of MARTians

Kate Christensen

“A beautifully written, deft, imaginative portrayal of a girl on the cusp of becoming herself and discovering her own powers.”—Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner award-winning author of The Great Man and The Last Cruise

Laurie Friedman

Fly Back, Agnes is a charming novel that I read in one sitting. Elizabeth Atkinson has crafted a quirky yet tender story that also manages to explore some of the deep challenges faced by today’s youth. I loved this book and am ready to pack my bags and head off to rural Vermont!”—Laurie Friedman, author of the Mallory series

Terry Farish

Fly Back, Agnes settles right in your heart. The storytelling holds you tight with secrets abounding all round.”—Terry Farish, author of The Good Braider and Either the Beginning or the End of the World

Danielle Joseph

“Elizabeth Atkinson has written a tenderhearted coming-of-age novel that gives you all the feels—each character as intriguing and multilayered as the next.”—Danielle Joseph, author of Shrinking Violet, Indigo Blues, and Pure Red