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YA Review: Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart

Title: Scars Like Wings

Author: Erin Stewart
Year published: 2019
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 384 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)USA (UT)

SummaryBefore, I was a million things. Now I'm only one. The Burned Girl.

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn't need a mirror to know what she looks like--she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her.

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be "normal" again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends--no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever.

But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn't have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn't afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she's going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

Review: This book has been on my shelves for years and it's about time I read it because it is really good!

I have only read The 57 Bus, which deals with burns/scars so this book felt like new territory for me. In the acknowledgements, the author talks about the burn survivors that she spoke with to make sure she got the story right and it shows. The physical descriptions of treatment, the way burn scars feel, and, most importantly, the emotional side of scars were all excellent. Using high school students was a great idea because being a teenager is already tough, but adding in a physical difference adds a whole new dimension.

I like the way strangers also played a role in the way the main character felt about herself and her physical appearance, especially when she describes the different ways in which people treated her: staring, laughing, making fun of, asking questions, ignoring.... All of them affected her differently.

The characters in the book are so real; they love and hurt one another, deal with pain well and badly, and they are all trying to figure out the "new normal" after tragedy. I also like that the ending is a "happily ever after," but rather a we're going to support each other as we figure out how to move forward and do the best we can. That's real.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Literary Escapes--Utah

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