Why We Need Strong Diverse Female Characters In YA

Monday, March 13, 2017

Wing Jones Book Review | sprinkledpages

Having a strong female character in YA can make or break a book! Personally for me, there is nothing better than getting into a book to find a character who is absolutely kick ass and bold and outgoing and at the same time…wait for it…female. *cue shocked gasps*

Okay, I’m kidding! I like to think over the years we have gotten a lot better and broken through those gender barriers. 

But there is still a huge drought of strong female leads that are diverse such as being a person of colour, from the LGBTQI+ community, disabled and so much more! We need to include more of these groups into writing! 

Lucky for you, Wing Jones is exactly one of those books where you have a strong female lead who is ALSO a diverse main character (she’s biracial)!! 

Going into Wing Jones I didn’t know what to expect. There wasn’t much hype surrounding this book and I hadn’t heard much about it from other bloggers so I was going in pretty much blind!
And wow, I did not expect what I got!


About the book. 

Book: Wing Jones
Author: Katherine Webber
Pages: 378
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Synopsis: Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants. (source)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Recommended for: Anyone 12+

Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me a review copy however all thoughts and opinions are my own and this is an honest review. 

 

My thoughts.

{ IDEA }

On the back Laini Taylor, the author of Daughter Of Smoke And Bone wrote ‘in her darkest time, Wing finds her own strength. I fell in love with Wing Jones and you will too’ and she could have not been more right! 

Wing is such a strong character! Her brother gets into an accident where he kills two people and injures another because he was drink driving and is now in a coma, leaving his family behind to mourn the loss and deal with the consequences of his actions.
Wing Jones Book Review | sprinkledpages

I’ve never thought of the family of the drunk driver that kills others – never thought of what they go through and Webber makes us question that. When we hear accidents like this in the news, we automatically believe the drunk driver is bad – thinking in black and white – and we believe anyone he is associated with is pretty bad too. 

But reading this book, you get the other side of the story where Wing, her mother and two grandmothers and her brother’s girlfriend and best friend all have to pick up the pieces. Wing has to learn to deal with suddenly not being in her brother’s shadow, for having to grow up and support her family, to have to deal with the guilt and the pain her brother has caused the other families whose children he has killed. 

The magic realism in this book was also so beautiful and well woven in! Also, props to Webber for including a diverse character in her book without making everything about her diversity and actually making it seem natural! 

ALSO, can we talk about the setting? This is set in the 90s in Atlanta and I loved this because Webber was able to talk about racial prejudice and how it affected Wing! 

And I loved the way Wing turned to running to give her an escape from her life was such a positive message to readers - that there are healthy ways of coping with your grief! 

This is such an eye opening, heart breaking but at the same time, heart-warming read as you see Wing trying to find a healthy way to cope with her grief and channel all her energy into.


{ PLOT }

Like most contemporaries, this doesn’t have a fast paced, action packed plot but somehow Webber made it work! I did take my time reading this one (about three days which is pretty long for me) but I think it’s mostly because I had so much work to do! 

The plot of this has quite a slow progression which made me a little agitated and uninterested however towards the end it picks up well! 


{ CHARACTERS }

This is a mostly character driven book where characters and their development is more important than the plot. 

I adored Wing! She was such a kind, caring and so sweet. I loved her personality and found I could relate a lot to her at times! Wing is quite introverted and looks up to her brother as a role model so she is quite heartbroken to find he wasn't the person she assumed him to be. And instead of falling apart, she found a way to stand on her own, without her brother. She found her own passion, was able to protect her family, made her own friends and created a space for herself in the world. 

And I loved that about her. 

She is such a strong protagonist. I know if I was in her situation and if my brother (non-existent because I'm the only child!) killed someone, I'd be in pieces. I wouldn't know what to do or how to feel and Wing doesn't either, but I loved the way she dealt with her emotions in such a positive way! 

Wing Jones Book Review | sprinkledpages

This also had such an uplifting message for readers - that when things get bad, it's okay to be sad and to cry and to feel like you've hit rock bottom - but you've got to stand up and keep moving, like Wing did. Not many YA books focus on having characters that are not only physically strong but also mentally and emotionally. 

I loved Wing's family too. Her grandmothers are my actual favorites for how sassy and unapologetic they were yet at the same time, they (secretly) cared about each other and (not so secretly) cared about Wing. They just added such a much needed lightness to this book and I loved them for it.

{ FINALLY... }

This book was honestly such an amazing read! It was so refreshing and uplifting and GAH very enjoyable and worth reading. The only reason I can't give it a full five stars is because of a few little niggling issues such as a bit of romance stuffing and a slow paced plot but those are more personal preferences! 

I highly recommend you read this gem of a book! 

 

OVERALL RATING:


Have you read Wing Jones? What did you think? Or is it on your TBR? And what are some of your favourite diverse female characters in YA?  

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24 happy thoughts

  1. I am so so excited to read this book, Anisha. I was bummed when I found out the book was coming out later in the US, but it's coming out on Tuesday so I know I'm getting it for sure. I love that it's such a character driven story. These kinds of books are always the most memorable for me. Wing and her family sound amazing and I can't wait to meet them! :)
    Lovely review!

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    1. Oh I didn't know it was coming out later in the US! I hope you get to read it soon! And Wing and her fam are absolutely amazing, I hope you enjoy them Nick! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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  2. This is actually my first time hearing about this book, so I'm definitely going to check it out on Goodreads now :) It sounds like a hard-hitting and eye-opening read, so thank you for sharing your thoughts :D Fantastic review!

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

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    1. It is so amazing I can't wait to see what you think Brit!

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  3. I really did not expect this book to be as emotional as it sounds in your review. I've heard almost nothing about this one, but it sounds like a true gem. Definitely going to be picking a copy up when I come across one! As always, great review, and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. It is such an amazing read I really hope you enjoy it Kelly!

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  4. I must admit, this was a DNF for me Anisha. I just couldn't get into the storyline. I did like the exploration of racism but for me it never felt genuine, if that's the right word here, as a white author has never experienced that kind of prejudice herself. I want to give it another try soon, but being a mood reader it just wasn't that engaging the first time around. Wonderful review and so glad you enjoyed it <3

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    1. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it! But I don't think Webber is completely white, I'm pretty sure she is biracial because she posted a photo of her Asian mother. And she has an Asian husband as far as I know. But don't quote me on this because I'm not 100% sure!

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  5. I have seen this book before, but I never stopped to read what it is all about. I am totally sold on it! It sounds like a heart-wrenching contemporary and the unique perspective has me intrigued. Definitely one to add to my TBR. <3

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  6. Katherine Webber won me over with this book. Her writing is beautiful, and the story was very heartfelt. Great review!
    Sam @ WLABB

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    1. Thank you so much Sam! Good to hear you enjoyed it!

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  7. You said everything so much better than I did! I loved this book. I agree with everything you said. This was a wonderful, emotional read. Great review!

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    1. Aha thank you so much for your kind words Lori! <3

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  8. I'm glad you enjoyed this book so much! And I agree that it's great to see kickass heroines, who are strong emotionally and mentally instead of just literally kicking ass (thought that can be nice too, of course).

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    1. YAAS! Thanks for reading and commenting Vlora!

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  9. I have this book in my TBR piled I think you've just seen it promoted to the top :) I have heard many interesting things about this book so really curious now to try it for myself. And I agree - strength comes in many forms and having more emotionally strong heroines is something I definitely want to see more of in YA.

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    1. AHA THANK YOU! That is the highest compliment you can give a book blogger so thanks for making my day! <3

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  10. Oh I've never even heard of this one! It sounds so good! And that cover is super cute. Definitely adding this to my TBR :)

    Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

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  11. Ahh! I adore both this cover & the concept of the book - what a beautiful & unique premise. I could not agree more with you that strong, diverse female characters in YA are deeply needed. It is vital for teens who are part of minorities to understand that people who look like them can save the world just as much as straight/white/cis girls can, you know? Strength comes in so many variations & facets & forms, & I'm so glad to see a book that acknowledges that. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, dear Anisha! Added this lovely to my TBR <3

    Topaz (Six Impossible Things)

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    1. YAAAAS TOPAZ OMG TRUER WORDS COULD HAVE NOT BEEN SPOKEN! Thanks so much for reading and leaving me this lovely comment, it honestly makes me day! <333

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  12. I love this post, I completely agree with every point you made. We definitely need more strong female characters, especially in YA. I'm so happy you loved Wing, I have to say the Grandmother's were my favourite.. who doesn't love sassy family members?

    Amazing review Anisha <333

    Cody @ Literary-ly Obsessed

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    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH CODY YOU ARE THE SWEETEST! This makes my day <333 thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtful comment!

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