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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*The Anatomy of Wings* by Karen Foxlee- young adult book review
Also by Karen Foxlee:

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
The Anatomy of Wings
by Karen Foxlee
Grades 8-12 368 pages Knopf February 2009 Hardcover    

I've been trying to write this review for two days. I can't seem to get this book out of my head, and that's not a bad thing. On the back of the advanced reading copy of The Anatomy of Wings is this quote:
"Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you've finished, just to stay near it. The Anatomy of Wings is one of those books."
- Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief.
The Anatomy of Wings touches on so many subjects - death, loss, grief, sex, suicide, family, and social situations - and takes the reader through a gamut of emotions. At times I just wanted to reach out to Jennifer, the main character and narrator, hug her and tell her everything was going to be okay. How do you deal with the tragic loss of a sibling? I can't even imagine it at as an adult, much less at the age of 10.

Jennifer's family doesn't deal with it well at all, as a matter of fact; they more or less fall apart. Her mother won't get off the couch, her father drinks, Nanna's been ostracized for saying Beth was talking to angels, Danielle is just sad, and Jennifer wants to find her singing voice and know what really happened to her sister.

This is an impressive debut for new author Karen Foxlee. It is written in a backwards sort of way, starting with the day of Beth's funeral then going back to where it all started when Beth fell at the lake, then forward again through the story until after the funeral. Getting used to the back and forth of it all can take a bit, because it goes from Jennifer and her friend Angela in present day back to Jennifer telling Beth's story in the past. Once I became accustomed to the format, it was easy to follow and makes for a different sort of read. Kudos to Foxlee for the intriguing format.

The storyline is a familiar one that many teenagers go through, figuring out how they will deal with the peer pressure. Beth was sexually active at 13 and didn't choose the best group to hang out with. All her parentsí pleading only pushed her further away, to the point where she would run away for days and they wouldn't know where she was. She rebelled, as many teens do, but she didnít really like who she was becoming. I like that Foxlee tried to bring her back, but that in the end it was just too much for Beth to handle. Itís a well-written book that touches on a lot of delicate subjects. Not a book I would recommend for anyone under high school age - a true YA novel.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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