The Anatomy of Wings Review

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ten-year-old Jennifer Day lives in a small mining town full of secrets. Trying to make sense of the sudden death of her teenage sister, Beth, she looks to the adult world around her for answers.

As she recounts the final months of Beth’s life, Jennifer sifts through the lies and the truth, but what she finds are mysteries, miracles, and more questions. Was Beth’s death an accident? Why couldn’t Jennifer—or anyone else—save her?

Through Jennifer’s eyes, we see one girl’s failure to cross the threshold into adulthood as her family slowly falls apart.

Taken from GoodReads.

The Anatomy of Wings is the story of ten-year-old Jennifer Day, who has no idea why her perfect sister, Beth is suddenly gone. Though young and still innocent, she wants answers, and she wants to understand how the sister she knew as the epitome of beauty and all things girly, had turned into someone she hardly even knew. Starting with the contents of a small cardboard box, Jenny starts to unravel the mystery surrounding the loss of her sister and learns to accept the reality of it.

I picked up The Anatomy of Wings on a whim while I was stalking perusing the contents at the bookstore. I happened upon the cover, I read the summary, and I was sold. The debut novel of author Karen Foxlee, The Anatomy of Wings is a heartfelt story of learning to cope with loss in the only way a young girl knows how. It's tumultuous, heartfelt, and captures the true devastation and need for answers that Jenny feels as she continues to question the events leading to Beth's death. Jenny learns that her parents did everything they could to control Beth's wayward behavior, but it only added fuel to the fire.

I truly wanted to love The Anatomy of Wings. It has all the makings of the perfect story. The writing is clear, fluid, and easy to read. The prose perfectly balances descriptiveness, while remaining concise and relatable. However, I felt a disconnect with the story line, perhaps because it was so disjointed (chapters describing other families, etc). The elements were all there to make it relevant to teens today, but I had a very hard time feeling that connection with Jenny's family. Though the sadness is central in the truth of The Anatomy of Wings, I just didn't feel it myself.

I definitely think that The Anatomy of Wings is a well-written book, and it's not a bad debut. I just had a hard time connecting with it. I give The Anatomy of Wings a 3 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to those who enjoy realistic YA fiction. There are mentions of alcohol and sexual situations, so I'd recommend it to a more mature YA audience, despite the age of Jenny, the narrator.


  1. Nice review, though I dont think Id pick up a mature YA, unless its fantasy...

    Love that you enjoy zombies :) hope you liked the free story by Neil Gaiman!
    e-Volving Books

  2. Nice honest review.
    I do not know if this one is for me, I do want to connect with the people in the book

  3. Really great review Melissa, I always love when you point out both the positive and negative things about a story. The ones where I can't connect to the characters are always the hardest ones to review, even if the story is strong. I'm a character person through and through, they make the book for me:)

  4. Thanks for the honest review - nicely balanced! :-)

  5. Great review! I love the cover and was sold once I read the synopsis, glad you mentioned the disconnect, hate when that happens

  6. Thanks for the review! Sometimes it's really hard to connect with characters, no matter how hard we try/want to. I'm not much for realistic YAs and the protagonist seems a bit young for my usual tastes.

  7. Sorry to hear you didn't love it. I love the cover it. I'll try and hold out till my library gets a copy of it. :)

  8. i hadn't heard of this one before. sounds like the subject matter is really intense!

  9. The cover is beautiful!

    There seem to be a lot of dead sister books in YA lately...

    I might check it out, though I do love connecting to the characters and the story.

  10. Probably not for me. I'm not much into realistic contemporary. Thanks for your honest review!

    Teens Read and Write

  11. Bummer. I hate when that happens. Fantastic cover and title though.

  12. I love an honest review. I think I'll skip this one because the heroine sounds a bit young for me to connect with..

  13. I have not heard of this title before, but I loved your review. I also love the fact that I am not the only one who loves to hang out for long periods of time in a book store. Thankfully, I do not think the employees think I am a stalker.

  14. Very nice review, as always, Melissa! :)

  15. This seems like a lovely book. I may pick it up at the library one day. I'll have to see it for myself. I do like realistic fiction...but if the story doesn't have a connection with the reader, then it may be a little iffy with me. Still, I'll give it a try ;) Thanks for your review!


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