Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Wing Jones - Katherine Webber

Wing Jones - Katherine Webber
Katherine Webber's debut novel, Wing Jones, is a delicious mix of ingredients. Based in 1990s Atlanta, the main teen characters are all mixed race or black, there's an inter-racial relationship, there's binge drinking and suspenseful moments of gun-toting. But, there's also - and primarily - a naive and painfully vilified fifteen year old girl who is relentlessly bullied, is mocked by her loving Ghanaian and Chinese grandmothers, has a girlhood crush on her popular brother's best friend, and she calls on her dragon and lioness to help her through the most tragic events of her life.  Wrap all of this up in Jessica Ennis 'this girl can' attitudes to sport and sprinkle with happy bliss. Then you've met Wing Jones.

Wing Jones is a pleasure to read. Katherine Webber's writing flows, and she creates immediately likeable characters. Prejudiced attitudes to race and what constitutes criminal activity form central parts of the story without being tackled as 'issues'. The tragic event*, which provides a plot turning point, covers an issue I don't think I've seen in YA before (I'm sure it is out there though) and is tragically very real. Curiously, and despite these elements of the plot (which were my favourite), the overall tone in Wing Jones is cosily warm and those who love cute couples will no doubt be charmed.

*See below for small plot spoiler about the tragic event......

Publication details: 5 January 2017, Walker Books, London, paperback
This copy: uncorrected proof from the publisher for review

Caution: Plot spoiler follows.

Plot spoiler

Plot spoiler.

Tragic event: drinking and driving

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