When 11-year-old Linnet discovers she is growing wings, her bewilderment is confounded by her mother's obvious distress. As it turns out, her mother also grew wings on the cusp of adolescence, only to have them cut off by her
mother. Linnet's life seems to speed up rapidly after her shocking discovery; she soon finds herself alone on her estranged grandmother's doorstep, and shortly thereafter, at a type of secret residence for winged people like herself. As she tries to adapt to a life she never expected, Linnet struggles with desires common to anyone who has ever wanted desperately to fit in, while simultaneously seeking to embrace uniqueness.
This unusual novel will strike a chord with young readers who long to both blend in and stand out. Linnet is a sensitive, strong, fallible girl, easy to relate to (in spite of her unusual physical traits). Her adventures as she tries to learn how to fly (just having wings isn't enough--it takes hard work and practice), make friends, find her mother, and, with her winged community, avoid being noticed by the media, make for an entirely new kind of science fiction-fantasy story--one that soars. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Eleven-year-old Linnet, the sympathetic protagonist of this flawed first novel, is confused when she begins to grow feathered wings. Her overwhelmed mother, Sarah, whose own wings had been cruelly chopped off by her mother, refuses to amputate them, but doesn't know what to do. As soon as school lets out for vacation, Sarah drives Linnet off to Wyoming, where Sarah's mother lives. Sarah abruptly disappears, apparently having abandoned Linnet. Resourceful Linnet finds her way to her grandmother, who, remorseful and a "cutwing" herself, brings Linnet to a hidden refuge for people like her. Here, where the story should take off, it begins to grow muddled. Stuffed into the plot are descriptions of Linnet's competitive friendship with a sharp-tongued and winged teenage girl named Andy, their attempts to fly, Linnet's reconciliation with her mother, and a pair of tabloid reporters snooping around the house. Near the end, Linnet discovers a wider network of people with wings (they even have a Web site). She must decide whether to stay at the safe house, go with the network or follow Andy's conviction that they go public and let the world learn to accept them. Readers may be touched by Linnet's plight ("Could she be some sort of mutant, like the three-legged frogs they'd studied in science, changed by pollution or radiation or something?" she worries initially) or captivated by Linnet and Andy's first successful flight with water wings full of helium attached. But Winter moves too quickly from these moments, making it difficult for her story to soar. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
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