The Blue Wings

Levine Querido. Sept. 2020. 224p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781646140084.
Gr 5-8–Even though Josh is five years younger than his 16-year-old brother Jadran, their mother calls him Jadran’s “guardian angel.” Because Jadran has an unnamed cognitive condition that manifests in obsessive trains of thought and (sometimes violent) outbursts, she relies on Josh to take care of him. At Jadran’s school, The Space, students are told “If you really want to do it, you can do anything!” which is likely why he believes he and his family—including his mother’s new love interest, Murad, and his daughter, Yasmin, both of whom just moved in—can rehabilitate an injured crane left behind by a crane family who flew south for winter. After an accident where Jadran causes Josh serious injuries, The Space offers Jadran residency because it is “better for everyone.” Believing that brothers belong together and that the crane—who the brothers have dubbed Sprig—also deserves to be with his family, Jadran steals a tractor from The Space and he, Josh, and Sprig set off on an unlikely adventure to save each other. While illustrating the headspace of an 11-year-old grappling with his absent father, his neuroatypical brother, and new family members in a compelling way, the all-too-neat ending that seems to skate over Jadran’s true needs is concerning. No characters’ races are mentioned; Jadran, Josh, and their mother are assumed Dutch-white; Murad and Yasmin are Muslim.
VERDICT An additional purchase where foreign translations or stories about brotherhood are highly coveted.

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