Published by Simon & Schuster on October 1, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Diversity, Young Adult
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Everyone has scars. Some are just easier to see ...
16-year-old Ava Gardener is heading back to school one year after a house fire left her severely disfigured. She’s used to the names, the stares, the discomfort, but there’s one name she hates most of all: Survivor. What do you call someone who didn’t mean to survive? Who sometimes wishes she hadn’t?
When she meets a fellow survivor named Piper at therapy, Ava begins to feel like she’s not facing the nightmare alone. Piper helps Ava reclaim the pieces of Ava Before the Fire, a normal girl who kissed boys and sang on stage. But Piper is fighting her own battle for survival, and when Ava almost loses her best friend, she must decide if the new normal she’s chasing has more to do with the girl in the glass—or the people by her side.
The beautiful, life-affirming debut from Erin Stewart that's being called the YA answer to Wonder. Perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Nicola Yoon and John Green.
I’ve had a difficult time finding contemporary novels that I’ve loved this year, and Scars Like Wings has definitely been one of the best. Which makes me even more delighted to be part of the blog tour. Check out the blog tour schedule here. There will also be a giveaway for one copy of Scars Like Wings over on Jeann’s instagram account in a few days’ time.
Trigger warnings: burn survivor, depression, suicide attempts, drug misuse
Scars Like Wings is a wonderful debut novel that covers difficult topics but isn’t difficult to read. It’s not the kind of book that makes you want to take breaks every few pages to recover from the heaviness of it. It’s a story about figuring out the person you now are after surviving a tragic event and going through what is essentially a transformation. It’s a story about hope and acceptance, and learning to live with the person you’ve now become.
The novel follows Ava, who lost her parents and cousin in a tragic house fire a year ago, which also left her with horrible scars all over her face and body. Her aunt, Cora, is trying to reintegrate Ava back into the real world, which means going back to school. And that’s the last thing that Ava wants. She’s worried about the stares and the jeers from peers who can’t accept somebody who looks different to the way they look. But her transitions, while difficult, is made easier by her friendship with Piper, another survivor of an accident that left her with scars, and Asad, a fellow theatre nerd. What Ava slowly starts to discover is that everybody has scars and things they are battling, even though they might not be visible to her.
I highly enjoyed this book. It was a realistic story about disability and disfigurement, but still a relatable story even to people who don’t have a chronic disability. It was easy for me to understand Ava’s pain and anger at her situation and her appearance, as well as her actions and the motivations for them. I enjoyed the plot and all of the trials and tribulations that Ava went through. Even though there wasn’t a lot of plot, I think it worked well for the purposes of this novel, which was to highlight Ava’s experience as a burn survivor and a person who is trying to figure out what her place is in society and in the closer circle of people around her.
I thought Ava was a very well-fleshed out character, with fantastic character development. She’s realistic and she’s not perfect. But like all other teenagers who are still figuring out who they are, Ava is just a 16 year old who was just on her way to figuring out who she was but now finds herself having to redefine herself because her appearance is now drastically different. Her flaws (and I’m not talking about her scars) make her an interesting character who you want to root for and see accept her new self. I also enjoyed some of the side characters like Cora and her uncle, Glenn, who lost their only daughter in the same fire and are now Ava’s guardians. It was interesting to see their perspectives and the love they have for Ava even though she would never replace their daughter. I also loved Asad, one of Ava’s few friends at school, because of his nerdiness and how sweet he was to Ava.
The one aspect of the novel that I wasn’t a huge fan of was Piper. She’s supposed to be the one bright spot in Ava’s new life and the person who draws Ava out of her shell. And I appreciated that she was able to do that but I wasn’t able to connect with Piper’s character and appreciate her role in the story. I also found the ending of the story to be glossed over when it came to Piper and her own battles. I would have loved to have had a bit more character building when it came to Piper and a slightly more resolved ending.
All in all, I highly enjoyed Scars Like Wings. It’s a motivational and moving novel with a beautiful message and I would not hesitate to recommend this. I loved Ava’s character and the relationships she had in this book – I also loved that romance wasn’t a bit focus in the novel! And I’m extremely excited for Erin Stewart’s next novel.
And don’t forget to check out the giveaway that will be on Jeann’s instagram account next week!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for providing a review copy of the book.
Scars Like Wings is now available at all Australian retailers for $17.99 RRP.
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