Jennifer grew up believing that her small immediate family was all she had, until one day she discovers a photo of a woman who looks remarkably like her. This is her aunt Sarah, her mother's sister. When her mother won't tell her why they are estranged, Jennifer calls Sarah and then insists on visiting her in Maine for the summer. Family secrets, lost heritage, all that good stuff.
I enjoyed the family secrets aspect of the story. Family secrets, in fact, are probably my number one appeal factor as a reader (which is why I love Melina Marchetta so SO much and the book The China Garden
and Sarah Ockler and a million other things). The story even has some sweet parts, like the description of the coast and the nightly ritual of reading lines that reminded me of a Madeleine L'Engle story, which is a very high compliment. I also really enjoyed the theme of both leaving and returning to home.
However. On Little Wings
has probably the most overt sexism I have read in a contemporary YA novel, like, ever. There is a big blow-out scene involving the romantic interest and his sixteen year old sister and her boyfriend that totally, 100%, no going back, turned me off to the romance in the book. Usually when we see such crazy possessive, objectifying of a girl(s) in a YA novel, it's the story of an abusive relationship. And man, if the novel hadn't ended I could totally see it going there. But to all the characters, it was normal. IN FACT, Jennifer's mother saw ONLY THIS PART of the romantic interest, Nathan, and said, "he seems nice." Uh, no mom, he doesn't. I didn't really buy in to Jennifer being that interested in him either though she says it a lot; I didn't feel
it. I wonder if she pursued it all in an attempt to have just any kind of love story to tell, an idea that the novel supports quite a bit, actually.
I look forward to discussing this with book club.
P.S. I wondered, as Nathan's treatment of women emerged, if the author was LDS. I just looked it up, and she is.