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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Burn Recovery Story Heart-Wrenching, But Hopeful

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

A raging fire stole everything from Ava Lee—her parents; her cousin, who was her best friend; her home; and her peace.  It also left her with scars over 60% of her body.  Recovery has been a slow, agonizing process.  Now that she's had a year at home, her uncle and aunt, who are now Ava's guardians, want Ava to return to high school.  They think it's time she lived a "normal" life.  Ha!  Ava's new normal is a waking nightmare, starring herself as Frankenstein's monster.  The last thing she wants to do is walk down the halls of a school, where everyone will gawk and laugh at The Burned Girl.  In an effort to please her uncle and aunt, the grieving parents of her dead cousin, Ava swallows her fears and acquiesces.  

When Ava meets another burn victim named Piper, she's stunned.  Despite her gruesome scars, Piper is brash and fearless, daring their classmates to poke fun.  Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a kind boy who seems to see past Ava's ruined face.  With two newfound friends by her side, Ava feels more confident than she has since the fire.  Will that be enough to help her build a new life for herself?  Or will trying to live a "normal" life just lead to more problems for a girl who's already experienced more than her fair share of trauma?
I'm not sure I've ever read a book about a character recovering from severe burns.  Scars Like Wings, a debut novel by Erin Stewart, was inspired by a real burn victim, her descriptions based on the true-to-life processes used to help him heal.  What results is a painful, heart-wrenching read that will make your heart ache with sympathy for fictional Ava and especially for her brave real-life counterparts.  Scars Like Wings isn't all doom and gloom, though.  In the end, it's a hopeful novel about healing, friendship, and learning to love yourself in spite of perceived flaws.  The story's predictable, but it's also powerful, moving, and empathy-inducing.  I enjoyed it and will definitely keep an eye out for more from this promising author.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Wonder by R.J. Palacio, A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore, and Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), rude humor/innuendo, and depictions of underage drinking

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. I have this one on my shelf to read in the new year and now I am looking forward to it even more.

  2. Sounds like a really good read. :)

  3. Ooh, I'm going to have to keep an eye out for this one. A little over a year ago, some students from my son's high school experienced an explosion at a bonfire, and quite a few of them were very badly burned (I think at least two of them are still in treatment; one hasn't returned to school at all). I think of these kids often, and this might give me a better sense of what they're going through. I'm glad you enjoyed this and glad to know about it!

  4. This was one of my favorites this year, so I am glad you enjoyed it. I loved all the characters, but I found myself feeling a little something extra for Cora. Maybe I related to her as a mother or something. I also really loved that Stewart made this a story about a survivor, not a victim. It was beautiful.


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