The Heartbeats of Wing Jones
by Katherine Webber
March 14th 2017
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Young Adult / Contemporary / Romance
Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights in this sweeping, warm, arrestingly original novel about family, poverty, and hope.
Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not.
Until the night everything changes when Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry. She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother and grandmothers’ grief. In addition to all this, Wing is scared that the bank is going to repossess her home because her family can’t afford Marcus’s mounting medical bills.
Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed, skill, and agility could get her spot on the track team. And better still, an opportunity at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?
Rating: B- – Liked
What I Liked
The POC representation. This novel perfectly captures how it’s like to be a POC and biracial at the same time. I really felt Wing’s struggle. The struggle of not being considered ‘Black’ enough or not ‘Asian’ enough because she’s somewhere in between, having both Chinese and Ghanaian as her ethnic background. It’s basically the same reason why people around her treat her differently making her feel out of place.
The characters. I like how the characters are quite unique and distinct from each other.
The character development. Wing’s journey to self-discovery is deeply moving. This makes this book a good inspirational read for teens.
The family dynamics. I love how their family is really close and that in times of adversity, they all have each other’s back. That’s what family is for.
What I Didn’t Like
The magical realism. The lioness and the dragon were probably a symbolism of her ancestry. They awakened and gave power to her inner strength. It’s a good concept but I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly a fan of the idea of magical realism. It’s just a personal preference.
The ending. Seriously? Things ended just like that? It’s quite underwhelming. I mean – this is not really a movie. I deserve an epilogue.
The romance. For me, a romantic interest in the story is dispensable. I just don’t see the point of adding it into the mix.
I think I would’ve prefered The Heartbeats of Wing Jones as a film rather than a book. That is just my two cents.