Wing Jones has looked up to her older brother for as long as she can remember. He's the star player at their high school's football team and popular among his peers. But when he gets involved in a drunk-driving accident, the illusion of the perfect brother shatters in the most heartbreaking way imaginable.
Wing's unexpected escape in the aftermath of the accident comes in the form of a newfound love for running. Born from a craving to get away from a life now shrouded in grief and confusion, this manifestation of the need to distance herself from everything that's going on uncovers a remarkable talent within Wing. While at first she only runs at night, as soon as one of her friends discovers what she is up to, it becomes clear that this isn't only an escape but an incredible gift as well.
Wing was such a fantastic main character, hugely realistic and inspirational, as despite all the hardships on her journey (and there were many) she punches through them with sheer perseverance and an energetic spirit. Her story is heart-wrenching at times, the emotions raw and palpable but despite the adversaries on her path she becomes an inspiration to those her around her. Wing is a force to be reckoned with, even if she doesn't quite know this yet at the start of her journey throughout this book.
And she was far from alone on this journey. Her grandmas, who provide a lot of love and humour from the sidelines, were brilliant and so were her friends. And even her brother, while leaving such devastation in the wake of the accident, added a powerful storyline strand throughout the book. The aftermath of his one bad decision was heartbreaking for everyone involved and the worst part was that that split-second mistake could never be undone. It could only be lived with, for as far as that was possible.
I also loved that it was set in the 90s, which is arguably the very best decade. Love the music, love the (lack of) fashion, and most of all I love that these were simpler times before technology completely took over teenagers' lives (with the exception of TVs, of course, but there was no Internet, social media, smartphones, tablets, etc.). It's a decade I grew up in, and while I lived in the Netherlands, not the US, there were many things I felt nostalgic for while reading.
Wing Jones is an extraordinary debut novel. With a heartfelt story, an inspiring protagonist and beautifully written, Katherine Webber is a wonderful new voice in young adult fiction and I for one cannot wait to see what memorable stories she'll be sharing with us next.
Wing Jones is published by Walker Books and you can get your copy from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.
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