Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fly, Colton, Fly: The True Story of the Barefoot Bandit by Jackson Holtz


Colton Harris-Moore. A teenage outlaw wanted in nine states for more than eighty crimes. For two years he outran authorities - often barefoot. At every step of the way, a frenzied public cheered him on...

He looked like a typical American teenage boy. But Colton Harris-Moore was something else: a disturbing neighborhood nuisance at the age of ten, a troubled felon at twelve, wanted at fifteen, and the subject of a cross-country and international fugitive manhunt by the time he could register to vote. He stole boats, luxury cars, laptops, credit cards, and planes, despite no formal flight training, then embarked on an astonishing two-year crime spree that crossed international borders, fueled a titillated media, and eluded law enforcement. A twenty-first century Billy the Kid, Harris-Moore hid in the woods and lived on candy bars, snack food, and at least one stolen organic blueberry pie. As his crime spree continued and his notoriety grew, he was celebrated online, on T- shirts, and on Web sites and a Facebook Fan Club.

Only one thing was increasingly clear: Harris-Moore wasn't going to give himself up easily. His fans wouldn't have had it any other way. This is the Barefoot Bandit's life story - his youth, his crimes, and his capture - the incredible true account of a digital-age wild child who may have run out of getaways, but found something much more valuable: a peculiar and very American brand of fame.


Fly, Colton, Fly is a true account that provides a lot of details about a very interesting teenage character, Colton Harris-Moore, aka the Barefoot Bandit. Colton became somewhat of an international folk hero through two factors: his uncanny ability to survive above and beyond the law, and the modern-day social tool known as Facebook. As the author, Jackson Holtz, points out, Colton was the “first outlaw folk hero of the Internet age.” Holtz is able to clearly get across the mechanics behind the sympathy for the main character, and even I was rooting for the abused and troubled kid gone bad guy, at times. Holtz also balances this with insight into the sufferings of Colton’s victims.

Although a very intriguing subject matter, this book is not well-written in my opinion. It’s somewhat difficult to follow because the author does not maintain a clear chronological order to events, which is a very helpful tool in the genre of true crime. Most of the book swings back and forth between dates and events in Colton’s life, and necessarily becomes somewhat repetitive in places due to this poor technique. It could have something to do with the author also being a newspaper reporter, since that kind of procedure is important for newspaper articles. However, I have read books written by other newspaper reporters which did not exhibit this particular problem at all, so I am reluctant to supply that as an excuse. Holtz does include a timeline at the front of the book, but I found it disrupting to have to constantly return to a timeline and figure out on my own what event the author is referring to. Holtz ideally would have followed the timeline himself to a greater degree, with referrals to previous events in the context as needed.

There are also some minor discrepancies in the book. For example, in the first part of the timeline provided at the front of the book one finds, “His birth father leaves when he’s a toddler and his stepdad dies when Colton is ten, about the same time his serious behavior problems are first documented. He’s arrested the same year for theft.” Much later, in chapter 12, one finds, “Like Colton, Harley’s criminal history dates back to his early teens.” I immediately had to go back to the timeline, once again, because at that point I am remembering that Colton’s criminal history dates back to age ten, unlike Harley’s. Hence, it became a disjointed read for much of the book.

Chapters were another issue for me, although one of personal disdain more than anything else. I see no reason for any author to chop up a book into two and three page chapters, with 1.5 line spacing and easy to read print size. There are 58 chapters within 236 pages. Whatever the intent, it makes it seem to me that the author is choosing to have quantity over quality in chapters, and is perhaps a bit lazy about the work it takes for a good author to make proper transitions within fewer chapters that combine obviously relevant material. This added to the overall disjointed effect, and also contributed a lot of wasted space to the book.

Even though I cannot recommend this particular book, I would recommend for any reader who is interested in this topic to seek out more information from some of the many other resources available online, in newspapers, and in books. This character, the Barefoot Bandit, is a part of Americana who will be back on the local scene after his prison release in 2018, if not sooner!

Length:  272 Pages
Print:  $14.00
Digital:  $11.99

You’ll notice I always include the publisher’s buy link. That’s because authors usually receive 40% of the book price from the publisher. Editors and cover artists usually receive about 5%. When you buy a book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or another third-party vendor, they take a hefty cut and the author, editors and cover artists receive their cuts from what is left. So, if a book costs $5.99 at E-Book and you buy from there, the author will receive about $2.40. If you buy the book at Amazon, the author will receive about $0.83.

Downloading the file from your computer to your Kindle is as easy as transferring any file from your computer to a USB flash drive. Plug the USB end of your chord into a USB port on your computer and simply move the file from your “Downloads” box to your Kindle/Documents/Books directory. I actually download my books using “Save As” to a “Books” file I created on my computer that’s sorted by my publisher, friends, and books “to review,” and then transfer them to my Kindle from there. That way, if there’s a glitch with my Kindle, the books are on my computer. Your author will be happy you did when he/she sees his/her royalty statement.

Thanks for visiting. Rose & Rochelle

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