If These Wings Could Fly

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Mar. 2020. 400p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062885029.
Gr 8 Up–The small town of Auburn, PA, has a crow problem. While Leighton Barnes is just trying to survive home and high school, thousands of birds continue to descend on the town. The daughter of a former high school football star and a homecoming queen, Leighton’s life is less than idyllic: her focus is to keep herself, her mother, and her two siblings safe from domestic violence. Her father’s failures, from football to business, have created a monster; his rage keeps the entire household in constant fear. In the midst of growing violence at home, Leighton is pursued by a football star at school, allowing her a little normalcy in an otherwise chaotic existence. The threat of the crows and Leighton’s house, which miraculously repairs itself when windows and walls are broken in violent outbursts, offer some magical undertones that are a relief and counterpoint to very real-world drama. But McCauley doesn’t explore them enough to move the story into magical realism, nor is the treatment light enough to be ignored.
VERDICT Despite the awkward imbalance of magic and realism, this is a compelling story of a teen struggling with violence at home.

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