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Wing Jones | Katherine Webber | Review

That year she found the power to be extraordinary

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. When tragedy strikes, she discovers an extraordinary talent she never knew she had. Wing's running could bring her family everything it needs. It could also keep Wing from the one thing she truly wants.

Wing Jones doesn't fit in at her Atlanta high school, a problem her brother has never had. Marcus is handsome, kind, and great at football. The students who are indifferent or outright cruel to Wing have no such problems with her big brother. Until Marcus makes one big mistake that has ramifications not just for his closest friends and family but for their whole community.

While struggling to deal with what her brother has done, Wing discovers for the first time in her life that Marcus isn't the only talented sportsperson in their family. Wing can run. Driven on by a dragon and lioness only she can see, Wing starts to think she might be able to help sort out the mess her brother has created, if only she can run fast enough.

I loved this book, I'll just say that straight away. The writing is beautiful. I could feel Wing's footsteps pounding the track on her midnight runs. I could feel her heartbreak over what her brother had done and the visceral shock of some of her fellow students' reactions. I loved Wing too. I loved watching her figure out this talent she never knew she had and pushing herself to be better. I can count the number of YA novels I've read about girls enjoying sport on one hand and I think Wing Jones is a great addition to that list.

One of the more unusual aspects of the book are the lioness and dragon who help Wing discover her talent. I have to admit that I wasn't too sure about these magical elements of the story when I first heard about them, but they are such a natural part of Wing's narrative voice that they blend right in. It seems no more strange when she talks of her dragon flying in the sky above her and her lioness nipping at her heels than when she talks about her laughter feathers tickling the shoulders of the boy she likes. This is just how Wing sees the world and it's a delight to see it that way with her.

Being half Ghanaian and half Chinese in 90s Atlanta is not always easy for Wing and it only gets harder as she deals with the aftermath of her brother's actions. She has her mother and her excellent grandmothers, she has her brother's girlfriend and best friend, who are both almost part of the family, but she doesn't have any real friends of her own she can talk to about what's happening. Ultimately running comes to her at a time when she needs help in an awful situation and it was really refreshing to read about a young woman finding herself in sport. I wish I'd had a few more Wing Joneses to read about when I was her age.

Wing Jones is an easy five stars for me and I highly recommend it for fans of Eleanor & Park and, well, everyone else too.

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