Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights in this sweeping, warm, arrestingly original novel about family, strength, and hope.

Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not.
Until the night everything changes when Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry. She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother and grandmothers’ grief. In addition to all this, Wing is scared that the bank is going to repossess her home because her family can’t afford Marcus’s mounting medical bills.

Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed, skill, and agility could get her spot on the track team. And better still, an opportunity at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?

Quick Thoughts and Rating: Actual rating of 3.5 stars! Diversity and culture were an important factor in this book, just as much as Wing’s journey to realizing her self-worth and discovering that her outward differences made her better and stronger in some ways. The representation of a multitude of diverse characters this book had to offer had me falling in love with this book, but other aspects kept me from falling for it completely.

♥ Review: *long sigh* Damn, I really really wanted to love this more. They promised me a Jandy Nelson and “Friday Night Lights”-esque book which made it really easy to request this, but sadly I don’t really feel like it delivered on either of those aspects.

I absolutely loved that this book was filled with an almost purely POC cast, all except for Wing’s older brother’s girlfriend who was white. I loved even more that it was a celebrated mix of cultures and skin tones within the POC community. I loved that Wing was a strong character, but also had her vulnerabilities that she wasn’t ashamed of admitting–she was tall, curvy, dark-skinned, but so reserved and let people make her feel smaller than she was. I loved watching her break out of that mold even more. I loved how her immediate family consisted of all strong women and her brother, and I loved even more that they were so close, even when they were bickering. I adored the romance and that it was a bit of a slow burn. I really appreciated that this book tackled issues like the racism that existed in 1995, tragedy and how people responded to it differently, repercussions for drunk driving, chasing your passions, finding friends through teammates, and putting relationships on hold when you need to focus on yourself. Webber excelled at focusing on these elements and I feel like they were an important contribution to the story overall.

With that said, I did have a few issues with it. Wing has these two guardians. . .of sorts, a dragon and a lioness. I wasn’t sure what to make of them, to be honest. It turns out that they were just a bit of magical realism, but I’m still not positive on what purpose they really served in the story. I supposed I understand that they represented her two grandmothers, one Chinese and one Ghanaian. But at one point, I didn’t know if they were spirits, if Wing was hallucinating because they originally appeared in moments of distress, or what was happening to be honest. I felt like it took me out of the moment every single time. I also wasn’t a fan of some of the repetitious moments, it felt like it dulled the plot and dragged the pacing. Additionally, there were also a few aspects that felt unnecessary and didn’t really go anywhere for me–dangling secondary plotlines , in a away–and that was when one of the grandmothers got hurt and the other was the back-and-forth with the “mean girl.” (She really was awful, though.) Lastly, there was the ending and how it felt rushed and unresolved to me. (I’m not a big fan of open endings, nothing really personal against the book or the author.)

Overall, it was a rather quick read and I was engaged, loved some parts of it, but other elements incorporated into the story kept me from falling head over heels for all of it.

♥ Teaser Quote: I’d like to note that while I had wished the romance element had been given a little more page time, Webber definitely nailed that first kiss. #HuminaHumina

    “Wing,” he breathes, like a wish, like a prayer, and it’s as if it is my heart’s name and not my own because my heart flutters in my chest, desperate to get out to fly to him.
     The best I can do for my poor heart is to press myself even closer to him and hope my heart will heart his, and that will calm it.

“Wing,” he says again, and it is less of a prayer and a wish and more of a plea and I tilt my head back and look at him, his eyes dark and infinite in the night, and I let my fingers splay on the back of his neck, up against his short, tight curls, and I lean up and press my lips to his.

–quote taken from the eARC of The Heartbeats of Wing Jones

Book Rating Breakdown
General Book Feels
Angst Me So Good

♥ Rec It? More likely than not. I think this book had a lot more to offer in the grander scheme of things, but I just wish the storyline would have been tightened up a bit in other regards. I read this all in one sitting, so it definitely had readability working in its favor. I’m certainly curious about what more this author will have to offer.

♥ A very special thanks to Delacorte for Young Readers and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this title.

*Disclaimer: An e-copy of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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