Scars Like Wings

Delacorte. Oct. 2019. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781984848826.
Gr 7 Up–Ava has endured a soul-crushing tragedy—her parents and cousin perished in a house fire, leaving Ava the sole survivor but with terrible burns all over her body. One year later she is released from the hospital to live with her aunt and uncle, after enduring painful skin grafts and surgeries. Ava is encouraged to go back to high school but she resists, knowing her considerable scars will make it hard to make friends. In a support group, she meets Piper, another burn survivor from her new school, and the two girls bond while trying to navigate their new realities. Ava gets involved with the school play, but she has to endure the cruelties of some, while also discovering new allies and a resolve she never knew she had. The research that debut author Stewart did to write such an insightful book about burn recovery is evident. She capably shows how Ava and her aunt and uncle come together to form a new family unit despite crushing grief. Stewart also captures the highs and lows of teen friendship. An interesting facet of the relationship between Ava and Piper is the often unhealthy dynamic between the two, which could push teens to explore where they would draw boundaries between friends.
VERDICT Ava’s journey toward healing, both physically and mentally, is thought-provoking. Not all scars are evident to the eye, and this narrative will push readers to think deeply about empathy, hope, and resilience in the face of heartbreak.

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