Author: Veda Stamps
Original Publication: 5/12/2015
Page Count: 297
Rating: 4 STARS
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Earlier this year, an intelligent young New Jersey girl named Marley Dias started a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks and she recently reached her target. She launched her campaign out of frustration because the books immediately available to her generally featured “white boys and their dogs” as leads. I genuinely understand her frustration because I felt the exact same way throughout my childhood and teen years. So, as a way to celebrate her success, I decided to sit down for a few hours and read this delightful middle grade novel, “Flexible Wings” by Veda Stamps.
I don’t generally read Young Adult or Children’s Literature, but sometimes I do so in between two larger works. Also, please note that I am reviewing this novel on a slightly modified scale because I am not the intended audience, so I write my assessment of the novel with young readers in mind.
I decided to read “Flexible Wings” because I absolutely love the cover. Blue is my favorite color (often my outfits can be called “50 Shades of Blue”) and I enjoy reading debut novels. To my delight, Veda Stamps proved to be an excellent Children’s Literature author because her writing is more than entertainment for children. Her writing educates and teaches important lessons about history, culture, and diversity.
“Flexible Wings” is the kind of book I would want my 9-13 year-old to read. The cast of characters is simply charming and beautifully diverse. Our protagonist, Summer, is a biracial (African-American/Japanese) young girl whose parents both serve in the military. Her sister, Emiko, is adorable and hilarious and the children they meet throughout the story are unique in their own childish ways. Young readers certainly won’t have trouble finding a character to which they can relate.
The plot is simple and straightforward, more or less what I expect from a Middle Grade novel. Summer is the new kid in town due to yet another relocation, so she must spend the summer trying to make new friends and navigating the social dynamics of her local swim team . But despite its simplicity, the novel is a joy to read and is often quite insightful. I was rather impressed with the themes it touches upon: experiencing complex feelings about one’s biracial identity, how military children cope with their parents’ deployment, and the importance of community and family support in our youth to get us through tough times.
You may not personally read YA or Children’s Literature, but if you have a young person in your life, please consider this book for him or her.
I hope that among the 1000+ books Marley Dias received, at least one of those copies was “Flexible Wings.” If not, I might have to send her one myself!
Meet Author Veda Stamps
Flexible Wings is Veda’s first novel. It is the first of several books Veda is working on that explores the theme of family, community and individual responsibility. Veda was inspired to write Flexible Wings after observing several exciting events that took place when her daughter joined a neighborhood swim team. She’s currently working on a story about three families living in the historical neighborhood of Pontchartrain Park in New Orleans, Louisiana during the Jim Crow era.