Cover image for As high as the scooter can fly
As high as the scooter can fly
Nirgad, Lia.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Overlook Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
191 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Written with soft-pedaled irony, captivating charm, and tremendous heart, Lia Nirgad's As High as the Scooter Can Flywill seduce fans of Alice Hoffman, Angela Carter, and The Little Prince-it is the perfect grown-up fairy-tale. Stuck in a small suburban house, with three daughters and an impressively dull husband who leaves her frozen inside, Layla dreams of far-off lands and a more fabulous life, asking herself, as Peggy Lee did, "Is That All There Is?" (But don't we all sometimes ?!) With fairy tale logic, her wish for travel makes it so-if you don't ask you don't get-and she discovers in her backyard a flying scooter, covered by vines, dead leaves, and lots of dust. And of course, if you remember your dream and brush off the dead leaves and dust and untangle the vines, things can start to happen. And they do. Layla embarks on a series of trips, while her sisters watch on-but not silently. Liora, the eldest, nags Layla to grow up and settle down, and she has a potion to help. Linor, whose eyes change from violet to blue before she plucks men's hearts out with her knife-sharp nails, urges Layla to find a lover. Lihi advocates denial, and Luna, long dead, visits Layla at night and sniffs her troubled dreams. And if these conflicting opinions weren't enough, Layla and her sisters are ruled by the Loveless Winds, which urge them to settle for security and to forget about love and passion. But are they right? As Layla travels the globe, throwing herself headlong into life, she encounters everything a heroine deserves-nothing less than the world, in all its rich confusion and voluptuous delight.

Author Notes

Lia Nirgad is a writer and translator, born in Belgium and raised in Nigeria, Argentina, and Israel. As High as the Scooter Can Fly is her first novel to be published in English. Her translations include Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain , and Lorrie Moore's Birds of America .

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Scooters that fly! Panthers that talk! Loveless Winds and wish-granting elves! For poor Layla, she of the cold, unloving husband, boring suburban house, and unfulfilled wishes, such magic holds the key to her future happiness. Or does it? When Layla discovers that the rusty old scooter buried in her garden can actually fly, she casts off the tedious chains of wife-and-motherhood and embarks on a series of adventures in search of True Happiness, Perfect Love, and, of course, a Handsome Prince. Like many a young woman whose romantic dreams of blissful domesticity become a nightmare in reality, Layla wishes for a way out. But as the old saying goes, "be careful what you wish for." In a modern, cautionary fairy tale, Nirgad updates the standard-issue, trapped-princess story line to include such decidedly un-Disney-like challenges as male chauvinism, spousal abuse, divorce, and child custody battles. Yet for all these heavy emotional issues, Nirgad's tone is Sleeping Beauty-perfect: light and glib, and oh so delectably tongue-in-cheek. A delightful fantasy, fetchingly told. --Carol Haggas

Publisher's Weekly Review

Layla is bored with her lot as a suburban housewife in this modern-day parable set in an unnamed city. Though she loves her three daughters, she longs for a more exotic world free of the indifference and fatigue of her present life. Can a flying scooter, unearthed in her backyard, be the answer to her prayers? This childish novel is fitfully captivating, but the fanciful world Nirgad fashions-in which four sisters (one long dead), elves and bats deluge the protagonist with advice-grows tiresome. Upon discovering the scooter, Layla, a frustrated traveler, neglects her household chores for fantastic jaunts to Prague or Alaska. As might be expected, the thinly drawn supporting cast grows weary of her antics. The author pays homage to every overburdened mother's standard "take me away" fantasy, a worthy plot device, but Layla's well-intentioned husband is predictably painted as a villain for wishing his wife would look to him for happiness. While Nirgad's descriptions of sisterly affection and childhood secrets provide occasional bursts of charm, her prose often shades to precious ("He was just the perfect kind of elf you'd want to have for yourself, perfect as a sunset with champagne"). A stern, unnamed narrator addresses the reader directly, as is common in the parable form, but this particular narrator is distracting, chiding readers at every turn for their presumed disbelief in the story. Though well-intentioned, this feminist fairy tale is more tedious than transporting. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Touted as an adult fairy tale, this first novel from translator Nirgad strains to fly in the company of such luminaries as Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince but falls short. Layla, a young mother of three lovely daughters, has been languishing for seven years in a loveless marriage to an unnamed dullard of a husband. One might ask why she married him in the first place. Being unnamed and given no history, the husband immediately gained the sympathy of this "dearest reader." Layla also has four sisters with various powers and charms and, irritatingly, names beginning with "L": Liora, Lenore, Lihi, and Luna. Layla finds a magic scooter, flies off to see the world, and encounters talking creatures: a mink, a bat, and a wish-granting elf who finally bestows on Layla her heart's deepest desire, (surprise) a prince. While the story exudes imagination and invokes some charming pictures, it lacks the coherence and depth of true fable. At the end, this "dearest reader" found herself asking "W" questions: "What for?" and "Why bother?" Not recommended.-Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.