Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Whew. Would Ava hate it if I called this story “inspirational?” 😉
“Don’t you get it? It’s never going to be okay.”
“I never said it’s going to be okay. I said I’m not leaving.
For anyone willing to gain some empathy and insight into what it’s like for your body to be more burned than not, who has ever fought to find their identity, who has ever felt hopeless, for anyone who wants to be torn apart only to heal shine brighter than before. It would also be a great read around Thanksgiving, because you’ll find a lot to be grateful for, like “my skin is all one piece” and “my toe is not being used as my thumb.”
The doctors say she’s more burn than girl. Her aunt and uncle say they love her and they’ll make things work, with pain in their eyes. Strangers say she’s an inspiration. Classmates say she’s a freak. The mirror says she’s a monster.
But Piper says she’s a badass.
And Ava is the only one who can decide if she’ll listen to what everyone else is telling her, or if she can find the strength to define herself after the fire that left her alive, but still took her life.
One of the things I liked best was the obvious research and detail given to making sure the treatments and expectations that Ava has to deal with post-burn are accurate. Both in the technical aspects, of how and why, but also in the emotional aspects, with the “finding her new normal.” That seems like something a lot of people might need at some point, even if not because they, like Ava, became a literal butthead due to where skin grafts were needed and where skin was available.
So yes, the details were impressive and appreciated. The aspects of her reintegration into high school go just about as well as you would expect: as Ava puts it, she freaks out the villagers with her toe-thumb claw hand. But still… it was a heartache and a joy to watch Ava try to find her courage to chase after what she loved again, whether a crush or a dream.
And Piper, oh, we can’t forget Piper. At times you might love her, at times you might hate her, but by the end, my god does your heart bleed open for her. Kindness, folks. Always focus on kindness, because you have no idea what someone else might be dealing with.
PS – if you were curious about the song “Phoenix in a Flame” by Atticus that Piper lives by, it’s not actually a song, it’s a poem by this guy on Instagram! To any with musical talent though, it would be super cool to hear a rendition of it.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!
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