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On Little Wings Hardcover – May 30, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-While paging through an old paperback, 16-year-old Jennifer finds a photograph of a woman with a familiar face. At first, her family won't tell her who it is, but, when pressed, her dad reveals that it's her mother's older sister, Sarah, who Jennifer didn't know existed. After recovering from this revelation, she and her best friend, Cleo, turn to detecting. Using Google and even a good old-fashioned phone book, they track down this mysterious relative. Despite her mother's vehement protests, Jennifer convinces her parents to let her visit her aunt in small-town Maine. There she soaks up the culture, hobnobbing with local eccentrics, falling in love with the ocean and with the troubled, genius next door, and participating in her aunt's tradition of reading favorite lines from poems or novels aloud each night. One of the town's charming residents, an aging former movie star known as Little, convinces Jennifer to encourage her mother to return and confront her past. Jennifer is a well-drawn teen striving to find her place in the world and adopting different identities along the way. Her adventures are compelling, but the consistent high pitch of family drama and emotion throughout make the book a little one note. The lengthy descriptive passages slow the pacing a bit, but readers who enjoy gentle romances and family secrets-perhaps those who have recently outgrown books like Suzanne LaFleur's Eight Keys (Random) and Wendy Mass's 13 Gifts (Scholastic, both 2011)-will follow Jennifer through all 400-plus pages.-Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, ORα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Jennifer discovers a long-forgotten family photo of a girl who looks just like her. Her parents reveal that it is Sarah, her mother’s older sister, a woman who has never been spoken of in Jennifer’s 16 years. Determined to unravel the mystery of the sisters’ falling out, Jennifer finds Sarah and travels from her Nebraska wheat field to Smithport, her family’s ancestral home at the Maine seaside, for the summer. At first, Jennifer is a fish out of water, but she quickly adapts and becomes part of Sarah’s ad hoc family and learns much about her aunt, her mother, and herself. Although this first novel benefits from a vibrantly described setting, a compelling plot, and likable main characters, everything is overdone just enough to push it into melodrama. The language is often overwrought; Smithport’s residents all a little too quirky and charming; everyone a little too talented, brilliant, understanding, or stalwart. That said, readers seeking an emotional and evocative summer read to envelop them will be swept away. Grades 7-10. --Heather Booth
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Top Customer Reviews
I've seen some reviews mention the author as a wordsmith, and I agree. Thunderstorms are visually beautiful and inspiring events, but Sirois uses lush poetic prose to make them a thing of art through writing. And that's just one example of the way she uses her mastery of language to inspire.
I've seen some reviews mention the plot as simplistic. I didn't need it to be complex. The characters, the setting, the writing; those were what compelled me through the story, so that I felt as much in love with Nebraska and Maine as Jennifer, the main character.
This book, and its author, are a gift, wrapped in delicious storytelling, with a beautiful cover as the bow. Don't miss it!
I plan to read more stories from my new favorite author.
Jennifer is another story, she is discovering the joy and pain that comes with first love. When you don't know what the other person is thinking, do they care as much as she does? Sirois gives us a great understanding of how this really feels. It brought me back to my days in high school when I fought that same battle.
On a personal note, this book touched home. I grew up hearing of the beauty of Maine. I did visit once, when I was 18 months old, so all I have of that vacation are photos; no memories. My grandfather was born and raised in Maine. While somewhat faded, his Maine accent is one of the things I remember most about him. The reference in On Little Wings to the Maine accent brought memories of my late grandfather rushing to my mind.
If you are looking for a book that will make you smile, laugh and maybe even shed a tear or two, this is a great one.
As she gets to know her aunt, Sarah, and the quaint family next door - super smart, strange children with a fragile mother and no father, and the local characters of fishermen and eccentric old lady, she grows to love the place and its inhabitants more and more. Not to mention her aunt's and next-door-ex-handsome pupil's habit to choose and quote to each other a line of poetry each evening.
Granted, it's an embarrassing thing to do, and the author doesn't pretend otherwise - in fact she seems to love making her characters squirm - it does however give the reader a few choice lines from Tennyson, Emerson, Frost, etc. (you can find the quotes back at the end of the book - my favorite is : "nothing gold can stay").
Jennifer and her best friend Cleo back home "just dont do" stupid stuff like falling in love then getting dumped by boys, but nevertheless Jennifer finds herself intrigued by Nathan - only Nathan has the interpersonal skills of a grizzly bear.
The story never becomes cheesy or predictable. The sea plays an important part in it as the ever-present element in a fishermen's village and intrinsic part of everybody who lives there.
I think this novel is enjoyable both by teens and adults. I preferred it to a good many other YA books of the same "genre". This one stands apart as a one-of-its-kind. Raw emotions are a big part of the story, but it beautifully manages to stay sweet, or bitter-sweet, and never becomes sirupy. If that makes sense.