Minda’s drunkie review of If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley
**We picked up an ARC of this at ALA. We’d like to thank Kyrie and Katherine Tegen Books for the opportunity. This book came out on March 3rd and you can get it here or at your local independent book store**
(Fair trigger warning: domestic violence, abuse)
What I Drank: A bottle of petite Syrah… I just subscribed to one of those wine subscription boxes and this is the first one out of the gate. This was the first night in awhile that was just *mine* and it was lovely.
Perfect for fans of Laura Ruby, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Mindy McGinnis, Kyrie McCauley’s stunning YA debut is a powerful story about the haunting specter of domestic violence and the rebellious forces of sisterhood and first love.
Tens of thousands of crows invading Auburn, Pennsylvania, is a problem for everyone in town except seventeen-year-old Leighton Barnes. For Leighton, it’s no stranger than her house, which inexplicably repairs itself every time her father loses his temper and breaks things.
Leighton doesn’t have time for the crows–it’s her senior year, and acceptance to her dream college is finally within reach. But grabbing that lifeline means abandoning her sisters, a choice she’s not ready to face.
With her father’s rage worsening and the town in chaos over the crows, Leighton allows herself a chance at happiness with Liam, her charming classmate, even though falling in love feels like a revolutionary act.
Balancing school, dating, and survival under the shadow of sixty thousand feathered wings starts to feel almost comfortable, but Leighton knows that this fragile equilibrium can only last so long before it shatters.
My Summary: Leighton (rhymes with Peyton) is entering her senior year in a small rural town in Pennsylvania with two goals in mind: 1. Get into her dream school far away from her small rural town and 2. Figure out a way to protect her sisters before she goes. Her family life is dominated by the domestic violence perpetrated by their father, and the town that allows the abuse to happen. When Leighton opens herself up to Liam, she finds that she can be braver than she ever thought possible.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: I could not recommend this book more. At points I was sad that this happens at all, at others angry about what women are forced to go through in many cases, but also inspired by these characters and the real women and children who experience abuse every day. The serious topic was given its due, but it also didn’t take over the whole book.
Characters: Leighton is so admirable. In spite of her situation, she continues to be brave for her sisters and tries to live as normal a life as possible while dealing with something no one should have to deal with. Liam, her love interest, is also a gem. Actually reminds me of my husband a little with the superhero geekiness and love to art, especi the whole ‘stuck in the head’ thing. I also adored Cammy, one of her sisters, and Fiona, his sister. As can be expected, her mother is complicated as a character—at points frustrating and brave in her own right.
Plot: The plot is super character-driven, but it definitely works here. You really feel her internal struggle—between being a good student, a good daughter, a good sister—all in circumstances that are unacceptable for anyone, but accepted in many ways in this small town. It was incredibly sad to read at times. On the other hand, the romance portion of this is super adorable and shows what a healthy relationship looks like. Liam is so great as a boyfriend and I really felt for his situation as well—it is definitely not the most important part of the story, but it can be a challenge to listen instead of taking immediate action in the face of domestic abuse.
One of the things I loved about this book is that there were a number of serious topics addressed—domestic abuse, sexism, racism, conservatism, etc—and they weren’t all “solved” in a super simplistic way. But also didn’t overwhelm—the book is still about somene doing the best they can inspite of her circumstance s.
I didn’t like it at first, but the crow infestation was a nice touch to go alongside the main plot.
TL;DR: Highly recommend. A great read about the toll of domestic abuse and persevering despite tragic circumstances.
Drink Pairing: A dark and deep red wine
Rating: 5/5 shots