If These Wings Could Fly

If These Wings Could Fly
Age Range
Release Date
March 03, 2020
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Perfect for fans of Laura Ruby, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Mindy McGinnis, Kyrie McCauley’s stunning YA debut is a powerful story about the haunting specter of domestic violence and the rebellious forces of sisterhood and first love. Tens of thousands of crows invading Auburn, Pennsylvania, is a problem for everyone in town except seventeen-year-old Leighton Barnes. For Leighton, it’s no stranger than her house, which inexplicably repairs itself every time her father loses his temper and breaks things. Leighton doesn’t have time for the crows—it’s her senior year, and acceptance to her dream college is finally within reach. But grabbing that lifeline means abandoning her sisters, a choice she’s not ready to face. With her father’s rage worsening and the town in chaos over the crows, Leighton allows herself a chance at happiness with Liam, her charming classmate, even though falling in love feels like a revolutionary act. Balancing school, dating, and survival under the shadow of sixty thousand feathered wings starts to feel almost comfortable, but Leighton knows that this fragile equilibrium can only last so long before it shatters.

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Heart-breaking & Empowering
Overall rating
Writing Style
Beautiful and gut-wrenching doesn't begin to describe Kyrie McCauley's debut novel, If These Wings Could Fly. McCauley brings to life the abuse one teen and her family faces, handling the subject with sensitivity and great detail. Mixed with a small dose of magical realism, If These Wings Could Fly should be required reading for everyone, not just the teens it is written for.

Leighton Barnes is starting her senior year of high school when the book begins. Unlike most seniors, Leighton doesn't see school as the end of summer, but more a refuge. For her, school means that her two little sisters are safe from their father for the next eight hours. Summer for Leighton was a nightmare, one she's ready to escape. My heart ached for Leighton. She is a strong character, one you root for right from the start. She doesn't back down from the abuse, instead she protects her sisters the best way she can. For Leighton, life is never normal. She can't date, she doesn't have many friends, and extracurriculars are a joke. But a lifeline is within reach. College means escape, but can she really leave her sisters?

While the plot centers around Leighton and her family, in the background are the crows. The crows become a magical element in the story. No one really knows why they show up or what they are doing in their small town. I love how the author ties the crows to Leighton's family. As her father's abuse heightens, more crows arrive. Little things like the house magically repairing itself and one crow that Leighton names after her late grandfather, all tie into the plot beautifully.

Despite the darker nature of this story, I really enjoyed If These Wings Could Fly. McCauley opens the door for discussion about domestic violence, shining a light on people who turn a blind eye to it. It's so easy to explain away a bruise or anxiety in a friend without really understanding what may be happening to them at home. Leighton's journey through this book is beautifully written (ironic, right?) and hooked me right from the beginning. I highly recommend this one to anyone that enjoys YA literary fiction.
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