I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
on March 14, 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2017 Debut Author Challenge, 2017 Diverse Reads Book Challenge
Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights in this sweeping, warm, arrestingly original novel about family, strength, and hope.
Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not.
Until the night everything changes when Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry. She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother and grandmothers’ grief. In addition to all this, Wing is scared that the bank is going to repossess her home because her family can’t afford Marcus’s mounting medical bills.
Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed, skill, and agility could get her spot on the track team. And better still, an opportunity at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?
I love a good coming of age story. One filled with real emotions. One that leaves me thinking about it days later. One that makes me feel something. The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber was all of those things. This is an emotionally charged and beautiful debut.
Wing and her family were a breath of fresh air. They had their share of troubles, definitely! But they were so close and supportive of each other. I loved Wing. I found her easy to relate to even if I’ve never been in a similar situation. She was dealing with so much. Grief, anger, disappointment, all of that on top of normal teenage stresses. Katherine Webber did an amazing job capturing Wing’s many emotions. It was so easy to feel what Wing was feeling. I love how she eventually channeled all those things into running. It started as such a healthy way for Wing to get things out. I also loved how beautiful those scenes were. It almost made me want to go for a run. Almost.
One of the surprising things for me was that The Heartbeats of Wing Jones has some magical realism mixed in. I read about it in a review just days before I started it, or else I would’ve been completely surprised. I love magical realism so this wasn’t a problem for me. I thought it was a beautiful, subtle addition to the story. It made Wing’s journey even more fascinating for me. It wasn’t a huge element in the story, but I loved how Katherine Webber wove it in to the very fabric of it.
The wonderful diversity in The Heartbeats of Wing Jones must also be noted. Wing’s biracial and she doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere. Her live in grandmothers are from China and Ghana. I loved the different cultures that came into play. I loved that Wing described her feelings on being biracial a lot. I feel like a lot of young people are going to see their own feelings mirrored in Wing and that’s a beautiful thing.
There was romance in this book. It was lovely and not overbearing. Wing even makes some decisions you don’t see in YA a lot regarding what was more important in her life. The Heartbeats of Wing Jones is full of gorgeous writing, diversity, and amazing character growth. It was a fabulous debut. I’m anxious to read more by Katherine Webber.