Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book Review :: Wing Jones

"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.."

I'm a little back-and-forth on this one.  Wing won me over by the end, but there were a couple of things I didn't love, that took a little pleasure out of the reading.  I'm gonna hit you with some bullet points:
  • I like the characters.  Wing feels genuine. Her character growth is visible and deserves a fist-pump or two.  She is very passive and naive to begin with, but gathers strength and is pretty powerhouse by the end.  Her love interest is decent, and their back story is sweet.   
  • This is more a coming-of-age story and less a romance (although there's a definite romance - lots of pining). I like that it's character-centred. Coming-of-age stories are A++ in my books.
  • Wing makes running seem like it might be reeeeeally fun!  I know for a fact that it isn't, but I was tempted more than once to try again, just in case I'm actually wrong and Wing is right.  Anything that (almost) motivates me to run for fun has gotta be pretty good. I know, I know, running IS fun for some of y'all. 
  • Wing Jones opens a dialogue about some important stuff, and there's a clear sense of consequence - natural and enforced.  
  • There's a slice-of-life feel that is pleasing.  There are many superfluous details that ground it in real life.  I caught the Friday Night Lights vibe at the start, too, though this is quickly dropped.  Disappointing, because that would've been a hook, for me.
  • There really wasn't a good enough hook, for me.
  • I found this a bit of a slog to get through.  It has all the ingredients for being a novel that I would enjoy, but it's so slow moving.  In the last quarter things speed up but too quickly, finishing in a rush.  Many threads left hanging.  Much frustrating.
  • Some of the descriptive language feels clunky/over-reaching.  
  • Wing's two grandmothers live with her, and I love what they brings to the novel.  As characters they are well-drawn and oftentimes they feel as though they should be the centre of the story.  I care most for them, of all the characters.
  • The magic realism is fine, but it feels unnecessary, imo.  I get that it's a connection to her grandmothers, further emphasising how central they are to the story, but I think this could have been drawn out in a different way.  However, this element doesn't detract from the story at all.
  • This is set in the 90's.  Who knew?  The 90's is my era!  I'm all over it with the 90's!  Damn, how did I miss that?  Really, how was that so easy to miss?  
  • Diversity in YA literature is 👊  (white author though, fyi).

All up, this might not be my favourite book of the year, but it was a pleasant read and I would happily recommend it to the young 'uns.  Wing Jones makes for an empowering role model, so on that merit alone I'm recommending!

Review copy kindly provided by Walker Books.

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