Monday, September 14, 2020

If These Wings Could Fly - Kyrie McCauley

Summary: Tens of thousands of crows invading Auburn, Pennsylvania, is a problem for everyone in town except seventeen-year-old Leighton Barnes. For Leighton, it's no stranger than her house, which inexplicably repairs itself every time her father loses his temper and breaks things.

Leighton doesn't have time for the crows--it's her senior year, and acceptance to her dream college is finally within reach. But grabbing that lifeline means abandoning her sisters, a choice she's not ready to face.

With her father's rage worsening and the town in chaos over the crows, Leighton allows herself a chance at happiness with Liam, her charming classmate, even though falling in love feels like a revolutionary act.

Balancing school, dating, and survival under the shadow of sixty thousand feathered wings starts to feel almost comfortable, but Leighton knows that this fragile equilibrium can only last so long before it shatters.
 (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review:  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I really enjoy that non-adult books (by which I don’t mean children’s books because this is pretty much a new adult or at the least a YA Fic book) can call things how they are. There is something refreshing about just being able to read about a topic instead of having to beat around the bush. Such was the case with this book. It pulls no punches and isn’t afraid to address issues that I think are important for people of all ages to understand.

Straight up, this book is about domestic abuse. There is a teen romance story (which is sweet and cute and you can’t help but hope that the surly girl who is unknowingly beautiful and smart and the perfect and hot football boy—with a hint of nerdiness--end up together, for realz), and there is plenty of highschoolness going on, but I’m telling you right now, there is a pervading and distinct current of fear underlying everything. Right from the start you can feel the fear, and I felt like it took over the family’s life in a way that felt rightfully frightening and stifling. McCauley does an excellent job of bringing the reader into the Barnes’ family and guides us through the underlying causes of the abuse as well as the back story that is so familiar and yet has taken a decidedly frightening turn down the wrong path. There is a lot of abuse in this book, and although most of it is not physical, it is really scary and feels very real. McCauley has bravely created a world where I hope teens who may be in an abusive situation will see themselves from the outside, and be able to find help. I think this is important for teens who are not in abusive situations to read about this as well, because if they have a friend who is experiencing abuse, this may be the only way to help them understand what is going on. Even if a teen does not have a friend who is experiencing abuse, I think it is important that teens recognize signs of abuse so that they can avoid it in future relationships, as well as seek help if they see these behaviors in themselves. Sometimes reading about something is so much more helpful than having someone tell you.

I’m really hoping this book helps someone, because it is powerful. I also think it is important for people to read about tough situations in order to learn and cultivate empathy. It is infinitely easier to understand, help, and love someone when you have more empathy, and one of the greatest ways empathy is created is by reading.

I loved the magical realism in this book. It was just the right amount of magic and happenstance to really create an interesting environment. The chaos of crows was an exceptionally interesting way to convey the darkness and the turmoil, and the self-healing house was a great metaphor for a community and a family that hides abuse. There is one other magical realism character that I also enjoyed, but I don’t want to spoil it. The crows and the self-healing house are in the summary, so I felt like I could write about those without giving more away. However, I assure you that there is more to learn from the crows and the house as well, and McCauley does a great job of addressing this without feeling like she’s talking down to the readers.

I found this to be a very powerful book, and I read it in a day and a half. As a parent, I would want to read it first so that my teen and I could have some discussions, and also to be aware of the scary situations that it creates. McCauley does a great job of putting the reader RIGHTTHERE and it is terrifying.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is language in this book, there are some teens that fool around but never have sex, but this book is scary with its domestic violence. I can see that this level of violence and fear could be a trigger for some readers.

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