Wings in the Wild

S. & S./Atheneum. Apr. 2023. 224p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665926362.
Gr 6 Up–Amid the verdant foliage of a secret sculpture garden, 16-year-old Soleida and her Cuban dissident parents try to flee after their illegal artwork is revealed by the ravages of a storm. Disguised as tourists, they arrive at the airport, where her parents are apprehended as she boards the plane. Lifting off should feel like freedom, but Soleida feels trapped and alone, a refugee in flight. At the same time in the California hills, teen Dariel and his famous telenovela-actor parents flee the wildfires that ravage their lavish home and threaten the surrounding wildlife. Both cataclysmic events were caused by global climate change, leaving the teens uprooted, desperate and angry. Drawn together by tragedy and determination, the survivors undertake a human rights campaign to help free incarcerated dissidents, and a reforestation project to protect endemic and endangered flora and fauna. The Cuban teens are from different backgrounds, but their divergent paths cross in Costa Rica, where, like lush rainforest flowers, a romance blooms. Masterful storyteller Engle uses non-rhyming verse in concise stanzas, isolating single words for emphasis. Told in alternating chapters, lyrical verse flows in evocative forms. Symbolism is evident throughout with references to birds and wings for flight and freedom. Other themes center around climate change and activism, connecting with one’s roots, and the transformative and healing power of music and song.
VERDICT Readers who enjoyed Engle’s past works will get swept away, and new readers are given many points of entrance and connection in this relevant and poignant work. Hand to fans of Ellen Hagan’s Don’t Call Me a Hurricane.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing