Author: Katherine Webber
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date: January 5th 2017
Format: Paperback (384 pages)
Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.
My Rating: ★★★★★
Not only is this the most beautiful book I’ve ever held in my hands (those sprayed edges are GLORIOUS) but this is probably the most I have ever willed and cheered on a fictional character. I absolutely fell in love with Wing Jones.
Wing Jones is a half Ghanaian and half Chinese fifteen year old girl who lives in the shadow of her older brother Marcus. Wing finds herself at the receiving end of spiteful comments in school due to her appearance but finds comfort in the happy times she shares with Marcus, Monica and Aaron. After a life changing accident for Marcus and the whole family, Wing is forced to learn more about herself than ever before, opening her up to a whole new world of possibility, love, strength and life.
This is much more than a story about a girl who finds her feet and learns how to fly. This book covers such a variety of relevant topics that I know I will be pushing it on everyone this year. It is a wonderful example of why diverse books are so important. As well as several POC characters, I also loved the complete inclusion of Eliza and her sexuality. Not only was the issue of racism tackled, but this book also contained a very realistic portrayal of grief, bullying, guilt, self-belief, love. There is something here for everyone to relate to and learn from.
Towards the beginning of this book there is a real focus on Wing’s appearance: both how she sees herself and how others see her. Wing is different from her peers: she is described as being dark skinned with Chinese eyes. Webber makes some exceptionally valid points in this book about race: the fact that Wing has never seen a model that looks like her before; how using words such as ‘exotic’ are not appropriate when talking about a person of colour. I was pleased to see the way in which racism was tackled in this book, I thought it was very important to do so and the way it was done felt right.
Wing has easily become one of my favourite fictional characters and I believe she will be an inspiration for many. I loved the honesty of her character, her self-doubt and difficulty in accepting herself felt so real. I really felt that I went on a journey with her and in those last few chapters I was rooting for her so hard. I also loved LaoLao and Granny Dee and could feel Wing’s exasperation and humour at her grandmothers’ interactions. They are both fiercely protective of their family and really reminded me of my own grandmother. I really loved the family dynamics that shone throughout the story.
I have fallen in love with Webber’s writing style and I loved the touches of magical realism. They made this book feel so alive to me and the imagery was really vivid. I truly felt that I was there with Wing every step of the way.
Wing Jones is sure to be a source of inspiration for many young people. I am sure that so many young people will read this book and be able to relate to one, maybe more, of the issues touched upon here. My hope is that for some of those young people, this could be life changing.
If Wing can learn to fly, so can you.