Friedman, Robin. 2009. The Importance of Wings. Charlesbridge. 166 pages.
It's called the cursed house because something terrible always happens to anyone who lives there. It's not a scary or ugly house, like those haunted houses you see in the movies, but it is different. It's the biggest house on the block, and the only one painted bright pink. And the backyard leads to the woods, which are scary. Nobody else's house leads to the woods.
Roxanne and her sister Gayle (not to mention their taxi-driving father) live next to 'the cursed house.' Their mother is away--she's gone to visit her sister in Israel, care for her sister, I believe--and while the two sometimes cross paths with their father, they feel alone. To hide their alone-ness, the two stay glued to the TV set. Their list of addictions is quite long, everything from The Brady Bunch and Wonder Woman to Little House on the Prairie and Dynasty. Roxanne, in particular, wants to be Wonder Woman. And not to confuse matters any, she wishes her father was more like Mike Brady or Pa Ingalls. There. Listening. Involved.
It's the 1980s and Roxanne is so uncool it's pitiful. At least she thinks so. Her inability to have 'wings'--the super-cool hair style that divides the cool and uncool leads to a bit of an esteem problem. But all that begins to change when someone buys the cursed house. A family moves in. A father, a step-mother (or is it just a girlfriend?), and a daughter. A daughter just around Roxanne's age. And guess what, they're Israeli too. For the first time, Roxanne sees that being Israeli doesn't make you automatically weird or uncool. You can be smart, beautiful, athletic, and Israeli. But the new girl, Liat, isn't a snob. She could have wings--her step-mom showed her how--but she prefers to be herself, to think for herself. And without a doubt, Liat is the best friend these two sisters could have. It isn't just anybody that these two would give up watching Grease for.
"Ta-da!" she announces at last. "I give you: Wings."The Importance of Wings is all about growing up, a coming-of-age story set in New York in the 1980s. It's about growing into yourself, into confidence. It's about learning who you are and deciding who you want to be.
I actually gasp. I have wings! Two perfect, glorious wings!
"Wow," I whisper, fingering them delicately.
"Yeah, but look how long it took to make them, Roxanne," Liat replies, checking her watch.
"It's totally worth it," I declare.
Liat looks into my eyes in the mirror's reflection.
"I don't know...some things are more important than wings."
"Nothing's more important than wings," I shoot back.
Liat eyes me intensely. "Really?"
I shut up then. (99)
Though Robin Friedman has written several books (Nothing, The Girlfriend Project, The Silent Witness, and How I Survived My Summer Vacation), this was my first opportunity to read one of her books. I just have to say I loved it. It felt so right. I thought it very authentic. I definitely recommend this one!
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews