Details & Summary:
The clouds have risen, out of my reach, but now I can see the stars and they wink down at me like they’re saying “You go, girl” and I tilt my head back and smile up at them, and I hope that from way up there my smile looks like a bright shiny star winking back at them.
There’s a lot to like about this book. Wing Jones is one of the most diverse books I’ve read this year with a biracial female protagonist (half-Chinese, half-Ghanese), a black love interest, and several other characters with diverse backgrounds. Story-wise, there’s a lot of focus on athletics, which is nice to see because sports in books are usually associated with male characters. Lastly, I looked forward to reading about a strong brother-sister dynamic, which, again, doesn’t feature in many YA novels. With this many good elements going for it, you’d think Wing Jones would be one of my all-time favourite right? Well… Not exactly.
At first glance, Wing Jones delivers exactly what it promised it would. There’s a lot of diversity (which I loved!), athletics is Wing’s biggest focus, there’s plenty of romance (but not too much) and plenty of brother-sister interactions. We can all agree that these elements would make for a great story.
But there’s one problem: I never connected to the story. After some soul-searching, I realised Wing was my main problem. She’s a great girl who cares deeply about her family, who knows what she wants, and learns to stand up for herself. These are all great qualities…but there’s something missing.
I think what bothers me most is that Wing just so happens to be an amazing runner. There’s very little training or improvements involved. She just started running one night and what do you know, she’s a hidden talent. I understand that people have talents and all that, but the fact that she went from not running at all to beating everyone in every race seemed a little too easy. There were hardly any struggles (running-wise).
Outside of her running, Wing does struggle. Her brother is in a coma, her grandmothers (who stole the show in this book because I loved all their bickering!) are exhausting to be around, and her family has financial problems. On top of that, she’s bullied in school by this one girl, she has to deal with racist comments, and she’s had an unrequited crush on her brother’s best friend for ages. But with all of that going on, I felt she was a little detached and passive sometimes.
I also didn’t really enjoy the magical realism. Basically, Wing is guided by a lioness and a dragon in this story (representing her background). As in, she can actually see them and she interacts with them. And while it’s a beautiful idea…it’s just not for me. This is 100% my personal opinion though. If you like magical realism, you’ll love this because Webber does a great job at incorporating them in great detail.
Lastly, the pacing felt off. The beginning and middle moved rather slow while the end tried to wrap up every loose end in the space of a few pages.
While Wing Jones seemed to be the perfect book for me, the lack of strong emotions and flawed pacing stopped me from connecting to the main character and the story on a deeper level.