I just finished reading Wing Jones, by Katherine Webber!
I received a copy of this from the Young Adult Dome project in the Boekhandel Dominicanen, this does not affect my review in any way
I had never heard of this book until it showed up on the bookshelf at the Dominicanen. Honestly, I picked it up because the blurb on the back was mysterious enough to make me want to know more, and because the tinted pages are gorgeous! This book was a pleasant surprise!
"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."
Wing Jones is about a girl who doesn’t really fit in her community - she lives in a town in Georgia that has a mix of races, but where there is still a large white majority. Wing is culturally American, but is ethnically half Chinese, half Ghanian. She has little confidence in herself, and is constantly hidden in the shadow of her older brother, Marcus. Marcus is the school superstar - a football player, popular, with the perfect relationship - everyone looks up to him… while they spend their time ignoring or bullying Wing, who is as comfortable as she can be when hiding from the limelight.
One day, things change. Marcus was found in a coma after a car crash, because he was drunk driving. Suddenly, Wing is alone, and much, much more exposed. Her brother is infamous for being a murderer, and there is nowhere she can hide.
One night, her lioness and dragon ‘guardians’ wake her up and she follows them to a track field, where she discovers that she can run like the wind.
This book was written to be able to be read by almost anyone 12+, but covers many, many concepts, especially societal issues. Racism, bullying, money problems, hospitals, laws, immigration, loss… I feel like if a younger teen would read this, they would only get a fraction of the messages being put across. However it can still be appropriate for a younger age group, as it deals with these issues in a very real yet gentle way. It shows what the issues one can face in highschool are, in an understandable way.
Wing goes through absolutely massive character development through this story. She goes from hiding in her brother’s shadow to being her own person, with her own story and friends. Her transformation is very ‘zero-to-hero’ and it is done very well - small revelations about herself and the people around her help her find confidence and comfort with herself.
The story is unique and addictive - as swift as Wing can run yet very real. Some things are relatable to some people, and other parts are relatable to others.
This contemporary was wholly about finding yourself as a person and it was done beautifully. The romance that we usually find in popular contemporaries was just one of the ways in which Wing found herself. She was in love with her brother’s best friend since she was young, and they get together in a way that is completely slow-burning, but that is done very sweetly. It’s very easy to ship them!
The racial differences in this book were also dealt with well - racism is a persistent problem in the US, and that was covered. Wing was often called a ‘freak’ by her peers because of her heritage. On this tangent, two of my characters in this book, by far, were Granny Dee (from Ghana) and Lao Lao (from China), Wing’s grandmothers. They are both very different and bicker a lot, but still get along so well, and are always, always there if Wing needs them. They are both adorable in their little arguments about nothing, it was so much fun to read about them! However, they aren’t just there for comic relief - they have real issues and emotions too.
Webber has a knack for writing characters that could be real. None of them are perfect, even if they are perceived as being so by others. There are secrets, dissappointments, admirations… even Wing is not exactly what one would call a strong main character - she is shy and lacks confidence, and has a hard time dealing with bullying. This is why I really enjoyed her character - she isn’t over done.
Overall, I’m giving Wing Jones a 4/5 stars. A beautiful read, I recommend it to anyone who wants a contemporary that is different and somewhat reassuring.
Have you read Wing Jones? What did you think? Let me know!