Review: Wing Jones by Katherine Webber


Title: Wing Jones

Author: Katherine Webber

Pages: 378

Published: 5th January 2017

⭐️ 4 / 5

Wing Jones is Katherine Webber’s debut novel and one of the strongest debut’s I have read in a very long time.  After meeting Katherine at Samantha Shannon’s book launch in Edinburgh early last 2017 and chatting about her book, I just had to read it.  This review is two years overdue…

Wing Jones is a contemporary YA which is not usually something I would go for unless John Green has written it.  High school (I call it secondary school like the majority of the UK do) wasn’t a fun time for me so I try to avoid reliving it through fictional characters either dealing with what I did, or getting to enjoy the stuff I expected of high school that didn’t happen.  However, I loved this book which was a pleasant surprise.

Wing Jones follows a young girl, of the same name, struggling to find her place in the world.  She is a mixed race character with one side of her family having Chinese roots and the other side Ghanaian roots.  Her brother is popular and one of the sporty jocks of her school but Wing doesn’t feel part of any group and is very insecure with herself and with her appearance.  Wing is a very layered character and it’s great to see her struggle with issues of identity, grief (in two very different forms), first love, the importance of family and even going through poverty.  It’s so refreshing to see poverty addressed in this way as so many families have to cope with this and I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before that highlights this as an issue.  Wing’s two grandmothers are standout characters in this book.  They are hilarious at times and fiercely loyal all-round ‘good eggs’ that you’d want on your side in life.  They are guiding lights for their granddaughter and even turn out to be unlikely friends to each other by the end of the novel.  Some of my favourite scenes include these wonderful ladies.

The plot is well planned and constructed and has so many threads to it with each character clearly following their own path and living their own experiences around Wing.  Katherine’s writing style is fluid and masterful which has given us a truly beautiful book.  It’s clever, witty and emotional all whilst highlighting important issues and creating a narrative that I really and truly cared about as a reader. If I had one criticism, it would be that I found the ending predictable. I could feel the story wrapping up like a Hallmark movie. However the Hallmark ending kind of felt like a hug and I still really liked this novel. This was a great book for me to start enjoying contemporary young adult fiction. This book is a fantastic debut novel and shows promise for whatever Webber publishes in the future. I cannot wait, and I am sure she is set to become one of my favourite authors.

Blurb:

Debut novel about a mixed-race family hit by tragedy in 90s Atlanta from a talented young writer. For fans of David Levithan, Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. 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.

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.

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