The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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?
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Upon finishing The Heartbeats of Wing Jones, my first thought was how lovely it was. There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about Wing Jones, but it is simple and thoughtful. There are plenty of characters you'll want to root for and plenty of natural beautiful diversity to boot.
I appreciated how actions weren't excused but also how everything was more light gray than anything else. I also loved Wing's growth and her fantasy of the dragon and the lioness (I definitely saw her grandmothers in her imagination's companions). I appreciated how they were rooted in her culture.
I liked Wing running. It showed her strength and individuality and determination in so many ways. I loved how all of the supporting characters - Marcus, Aaron, Monica, Eliza, Wing's mother, and Wing's grandmother - had distinct personalities and they had different opinions and roles, all of which came across nicely. And I really liked Aaron and Wing together. I would've liked to see her support him a little more, but he builds her up in such a good way and she doesn't need him, but they work well together.
I caught maybe a dozen s-words. Teen pregnancy and an abortion are referenced in conjunction with a (very) minor character.
The Verdict: Really good. I know my review is a bit vague, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The only reason it gets four stars, and not five, is because I didn't get that feeling in my gut that solidified it as an all-time favorite.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Probably at some point.