Review: How To Fly with Broken Wings

◆ How To Fly with Broken Wings by Jane Elson
◆ Read January 2015
◆ English Edition
◆ Purchase: The Book Depository
❝  Twelve-year-old Willem has Aspergers Syndrome and two main aims in life: to fly and to make at least two friends of his own age. But all the other boys from the Beckham Estate do is make him jump off things. First his desk - and now the wall. As his toes teeter on the edge, Sasha Barton gives him a tiny little wink. Might she become his friend?

Bullied by Finn and his gang the Beckham Estate Boyz, Willem has no choice but to jump. As he flies through the air he flaps his arms, wishing he could fly and escape into the clouds. Instead he comes crashing down and breaks his ankle.

Sasha, angry with herself for not stopping Finn and his Boyz, is determined to put things right. And soon, while the gangs riot on their estate, Willem and Sasha form an unlikely friendship. Because they share a secret. Sasha longs to fly too.

And when Magic Man Archie arrives with stories of war-flying spitfires, he will change the lives of the kids on the Beckham Estate for ever. And perhaps find a way for Willem and Sasha to fly ...

Touching on themes such as friendship and bullying, this is a charming tale about overcoming obstacles and finding friendship in unlikely places.
Netgalley provided me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. The book cover and synopsis drew me in, but the story did not live up to it. I think it will be enjoyable for children, just not great

I really liked that the main character had Aspergers Syndrome. I know quite a few people in real life with autism, yet I rarely come across book characters with the disorder, so this was refreshing in a way. Unfortunately, the topic wasn't addressed that much, but some things, such as Willem's issues with social interaction and his desire for structure felt really accurate. At times it did feel like he was portrayed too much like a dimwit, but every Aspergers case is different after all. 

Apart from the autism, the book addressed a lot of other themes and issues like friendship, bullying, abuse, love, civil disorder etc. All these themes connected through the common interest of planes and flying. I liked that it was the idea of flying that fixed all the problems in the end. Furthermore, I suspect that children who love planes (or the war) will like the story in particular because it will be right up their ally!

The one big thing that I disliked about How To Fly with Broken Wings was that it was dreadfully chaotic. Not only did a lot of themes get explored, a LOT also happened. Too much in fact. Problems were appearing left and right without ways to solve them and most of the story described the characters running around in a panic. The result was that many themes or events could not be explored in depth and that everything felt rushed. Moreover, some events were unrealistic, even for a children's book. 

Though the execution of the story could have been better, How To Fly With Broken Wings will nevertheless teach children a few things, which I find valuable in a children's book. This was entertaining, but not brilliant, so I'm giving it three stars. 

3 stars because:
✓ Protagonist with Asperger's
✓ Deals with many themes/issues
✓ Everything connects through the idea of flying
✗Too much happens

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