Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart
Expected Publication: 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young Adult
Thank you so much Pansing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Scars like Wings by Erin Stewart will be available at all good bookstores.
Scars like Wings is the story of Ava who has been left severely disfigured after a house fire and who lives with her aunt and uncle, both whom lost their own daughter in the same fire that took the lives of Ava’s family. When placed in this way, you can’t help but to expect an entirely heartbreaking and painful but “life-affirming” (as the blurb says) novel. So yeah, guess who feels awful for not liking this one as much as expected? Me.
You see, Scars like Wings is built on strong foundations but the execution of the ‘building’ (a.k.a. the story itself) on top of said foundations is poor. I’m not saying that this story isn’t valid or that the author hasn’t done their research, because this story is valid and the author definitely did their research. The diversity here is also amazing, but there are three huge issues that I have with this book which made it fall short of my expectations.
The first (and most important) is the lack of emotional depth. I don’t know if it’s just me, but Scars like Wings is just too easy to read and that shouldn’t be the case. A book that is centered around such painful topics should be just as painful to read. It should be filled with hurt—and forgive me for the morbid imagery but, reading it should be like swallowing a mouthful of broken glass. We’re reading in the point of view someone of whose life has drastically changed and thus, we should be able to step into their shoes and experience things as though we’re them, especially because this is a fictional person. If this were a real story told by the person, we wouldn’t need this extra layer of convincing because our mind is already conscious of the fact that this person is real. A character, however, needs that extra layer. Fiction is different from non-fiction, after all.
Another problem I have with this book is the lack of strong character development. I get it that Piper is the one who will help Ava learn how to live life again (it says so in the synopsis) and that Ava will no doubt change because of Piper’s influence. However, that doesn’t mean that Piper should do the character development for Ava only because this makes Ava’s growth appear weak and disingenuous. Of course, it’s not wrong for Ava to have someone to be the reason for her changes, but I would love to see her grow without Piper’s presence constantly lingering in her (and my) consciousness as well. There should be a better balance between Piper helping Ava grow and Ava helping herself to grow.
The final issue I have with this book is the lack of an engaging plot. If you replace everything with generic characters with generic circumstances and backgrounds, you will get about 80% of the same story. What makes Scars like Wings different is the characters and I think that they’ve not been utilized to the fullest due to the rather typical plot.
All in all, Scars like Wings is an okay read for me. Memorable in some ways but not enough to have a lasting impact.