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Review: The Heartbeats of Wing Jones

Title: The Heartbeats of Wing Jones
Author: Katherine Webber
Series: N/A
Length: 336 pages
Published by: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication date: March 14, 2017
Diversity: biracial main character and her whole family (half black, half Chinese), many black supporting characters (including love interest), two lesbians
Rating: and why aren't there more stars
Source: eARC via NetGalley

Let me tell you about my experience reading this. I knew from a few chapters in that I was reading an amazing book. As I kept going, it just got better and better and better, even when I didn't think that was possible anymore. It took my breath away, it kept my eyes glued to the page, and it shattered my heart into tiny, wonderful pieces. I got to the end. I thought of basically nothing else for four hours. And then I realized that I needed to start right back at the beginning, and guess what? It was even better.

Somehow, though, I'm having trouble articulating why and how much I loved this. I keep trying to put the words together, and I can't think of any better way to say what I'm trying to say, but nothing can come close to the experience of actually reading the book. So this is the part where I tell you to stop reading my blog and get this book in your hands immediately, because nothing will ever compare.

I love books that play with my emotions, and this book did that in the best way possible. Every word went straight to my heart. I felt what Wing felt. Every part of me was drawn into the story, and I think that's why I read it twice - by the end, I'd put so much of myself into reading that I didn't want to let go.

One of this books innumerable amazing qualities was its cast of characters. Every single character was just so perfectly written that I would have been all that surprised to find that they were real by running into them at the grocery store or something. I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference between characters and people, and these characters are somehow just like complete people put on paper. I can't pick a favorite, though Granny Dee and LaoLao are probably my favorite duo. (Why aren't there more grandparents in YA?)

I didn't know about the magical realism elements of this book going into it, so I was a little confused at first. Pretty quickly though, it became one of my favorite parts. (Who am I kidding? The whole thing was my favorite part.) Everything was blended so perfectly that once I got over my initial confusion, I never had to question anything. And really, what book can't be improved by a dragon? And a lion.

Really, though. Read this book. Let it suck you in. And when you're done, you might just have to read it again.
Goodreads summary:
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?


  1. I heard about this book a while ago and I was interested in reading and for some reason I've still not picked up a copy. Your review just reminds me I want to. Especially if it hooks you from the start. I didn't realise there were elements of magical realism though! That makes me want to read more, how did I miss that?

    Great review, I now have to resist the urge to immediately go out and by myself a copy (who am I kidding, I probably will anyway).

    1. From what I've heard, a lot of people weren't aware of the magical realism! If that's something that draws people in, I should mention it more when I talk about the book. (Because I'm going to be talking about this book a lot.) I hope you like it!

  2. Great characters and lots of feels? This sounds like a book I could get into. Thanks for the recommendation! I'm always on the lookout for good YA novels.

    1. You're welcome! I hope you like it!

  3. I hadn't heard of this book before, but I just went and added it to my TBR. It sounds fantastic! Any book you can read twice in a row has to have really touched you.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. It was incredible! I've never read a book twice in a row before, so it definitely affected me in a way no other book really has.

  4. Great review, Clara! I'm so intrigued by the magical realism aspect you mentioned, and that you think the characters are just like people really appeal to me too. I agree - YA needs to feature more family members, including grandparents! Adding this to my TBR now. :D

    1. Thanks! Family overall is really lacking in YA, but I can only think of one other grandparent offhand, which is definitely a problem.


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