Title: How To Fly With Broken Wings
Author: Jane Elson
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 03 March 2015
Buy it: Here
Willem is a boy with Aspergers Syndrome, and he is trying to make two friends his own age for his homework. A tough task for anyone, Willem also faces the challenge of navigating gang cultures, riots, the complexities of attraction and the fact that he can't work out whether Finn Maison is a friend or foe.
How To Fly With Broken Wings is a sweet story that takes place in very recent times of the London riots. There is a huge cast of characters, including a dog, an aeroplane and people both alive and dead (yes, really). We read the story from the view points of Willem and his new friend Sasha as they find ways to unite the people they care about and heal their estate, and I think these view points help get a good view of everything that's going on. However, I personally found Sasha's voice annoying at times. There were so many CAPITALS I felt like I was reading Facebook updates from people I had long ago unfollowed for that very reason!
How To Fly... presents some very complex issues throughout it's short story - gang culture, autism, domestic abuse and death to name but a few - but I never felt the book ever really went deep enough to have any kind of effect. Maybe an affecting read wasn't the aim, but I would question why there are so many YA-relevant talking points if it wasn't.
That said, I loved the tragic romance of "the plane" - if there was one message I did take away from this book, it is to love everyone you care about as much as you can, for the time you have them. You never know how short that time will be.
A very quick read that is enjoyable but doesn't fall into its themes enough to be affecting. I think that for younger readers of the YA spectrum, How To Fly... would be a perfect gateway into other books that explore topics along the same lines - perhaps Wonder or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night.