Jennifer is an only child, and so were her parents—at least that's what she thinks, until she finds an old photo in the back of one of her mother's books. The woman in the photo looks just like Jennifer, down to the smattering of freckles across her nose. And her mother refuses to talk about it.
Compelled to find answers, Jennifer embarks on a quest that takes her from the wheat fields of Nebraska to the fishing town of Smithport, Maine, home to the one person who can help her solve this family secret—the woman in the photo. But Jennifer learns that it takes the entire village of Smithport to piece together the story of her mother's hidden past. She needs help from Nathan, the genius with the reluctant smile from across the cove; Little, the elderly town matriarch and former movie star; and The Jacks, three weathered fishermen who dabble in pyrotechnics. As Jennifer discovers the lost chapters of her mother's life, she unwittingly begins to write a few chapters of her own.
Elegantly written, On Little Wings is an evocative debut novel about self-discovery, first love, and the power of family.
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Number of Pages: 432
Reviewed by Rachel, age 17
More than any other genre, I appreciate a good contemporary fiction novel. Though at heart I love my action-packed, mysterious, supernatural books--as a fellow writer--I find that it's much harder to make a contemporary as intriguing as one of the former. In a nutshell, Ms. Sirois has serious writing skills, both in her character development, setting and the words themselves. Everything is beautiful, and I felt entranced reading it. It's been a long time since a contemporary has done that for me. Bravo, Ms. Sirois!
If you are in the mood for an action book, you will not like this. But if you are in the mood for a deep, literary work of art, then you will not regret reading this. Besides the fact that I was so blown away with the writing, I also found the setting of Smithport, Maine and the plot line to be relaxing and refreshing. So, it's slow but unforgettably enjoyable.
Like I mentioned earlier, the characters in this book are mind-blowing awesome. They're unique, relatable and honest. Not only are they true teenagers and adults, but these characters have some serious discussions that are thought-provoking and enlightening. Conversations I wish I had in real life! You finish the book with something to think about still. I love the topics they came up with and worked out together--and I learned a few things without feeling like I was being preached to. That, and Jennifer and I would be best friends! I've never met a character who I related with so well. (Jennifer and Cleo are like me and my best friend. I kept sending her quotes that related to us!)
As a night owl, a great example of something I connected with would be this paragraph:
She closed her eyes and inhaled. "All the reasons. Work is over, school is over, there's nothing else to do. Maine nights can get pretty cold and long. I can't tell you how often the cable goes out. And our guard is down. Ever notice how you feel more self-conscious in the daytime? Everything is so logical in the daytime. So literal. But at night"'--she opened her hand to the sky like she was releasing the stars to the firmament--"you just believe more. You think more. You say more." (Copyright Regina Sirois, author of On Little Wings)The last thing I'll say about characters is that not only are they real, but you get a wide variety. Serious, smart, 'special', 'dumb', sweet, rough, funny as heck (I'm talkin' about you, Little...Honey, why can't you be my neighbor?!) and so on. There's just an interesting and endearing cast of characters you'll fall in love with! My mind still doesn't want to leave their town.
Although this book is a whopping 400-some pages and is leisurely, it surprised me by how the story always kept progressing. There was one one dragging spot 2/3 of the way through, but that quickly dumped out into the emotional climax of the book. I actually got teary eyed--and I'm no crier!
Despite how fantastic this book was, there were some things that bugged me. However, nothing big enough to alter my love for it. Sometimes I felt it was a little too play by play descriptive, like they could have left some descriptions out. Also, Jennifer started to get dramatic and a little unfair to Nathan towards the end, but she straightened herself out eventually. However, he should have done something at the end of the book that he did NOT and I'm still irked by it. However, although the ending wasn't anything special, it was very realistic and so I came to appreciate the end after reflecting on it for awhile. Lastly--and this is a weird pet-peeve that you might not even notice--the point of view is first person (Jennifer's POV) but yet she'll talk about her dimples when she smiles or things like that, that you wouldn't focus on or see unless you were talking in third person or another character pointed it out. So that seemed a little awkward and fake, but it didn't happen often.
Other than those few things, I loved this book! Seriously, if you're looking for a unique, fresh take on a contemporary, pick this one up! I think you'll be surprised by how attached you get to it.
(This could easily make for a great book club discussion. It's plenty clean for sixth or seventh graders, however I think this story would appeal more to older ages.)
This book is in stores now!
Buy Hardcover | $17.99
Rachel, age 17