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Growing Wings

Growing Wings

4.0 21
by Laurel Winter

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"Linnet waited with her eyes closed for the door to open and her mother to peek in. Waited for her to touch Linnet's shoulder blades lightly...Linnet knew that touch in her bones, as if it had happened every night of her life. An imprint, a memory of the skin itself."

So begins this startling first novel about an eleven-year-old girl who suddenly begins to grow


"Linnet waited with her eyes closed for the door to open and her mother to peek in. Waited for her to touch Linnet's shoulder blades lightly...Linnet knew that touch in her bones, as if it had happened every night of her life. An imprint, a memory of the skin itself."

So begins this startling first novel about an eleven-year-old girl who suddenly begins to grow wings -- wings with soft auburn feathers, which only at first can be hidden with long hair and loose clothes. Funny, sad, and hopeful, this remarkable story captures a girl's shock at feeling alone in life, as it follows her journey to answer a most important question: how can a girl with wings ever fit into the world?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Eleven-year-old Linnet, the sympathetic protagonist of this flawed first novel, is confused when she begins to grow feathered wings. Her overwhelmed mother, Sarah, whose own wings had been cruelly chopped off by her mother, refuses to amputate them, but doesn't know what to do. As soon as school lets out for vacation, Sarah drives Linnet off to Wyoming, where Sarah's mother lives. Sarah abruptly disappears, apparently having abandoned Linnet. Resourceful Linnet finds her way to her grandmother, who, remorseful and a "cutwing" herself, brings Linnet to a hidden refuge for people like her. Here, where the story should take off, it begins to grow muddled. Stuffed into the plot are descriptions of Linnet's competitive friendship with a sharp-tongued and winged teenage girl named Andy, their attempts to fly, Linnet's reconciliation with her mother, and a pair of tabloid reporters snooping around the house. Near the end, Linnet discovers a wider network of people with wings (they even have a Web site). She must decide whether to stay at the safe house, go with the network or follow Andy's conviction that they go public and let the world learn to accept them. Readers may be touched by Linnet's plight ("Could she be some sort of mutant, like the three-legged frogs they'd studied in science, changed by pollution or radiation or something?" she worries initially) or captivated by Linnet and Andy's first successful flight with water wings full of helium attached. But Winter moves too quickly from these moments, making it difficult for her story to soar. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Winter's novel has an intriguing premise—what if, all over the world, there are people with wings? Deep in the mountains of Montana is a hidden sanctuary, home to a small group of people who have or once have had wings. Linnet's sprouting wings are a total surprise to her, and so is being delivered to this place by the grandmother she has never known. Ellen, Jan, Andy, Charlie, and Jake provide a new family and literally a safe place to spread her wings. Will this valley be big enough for the rest of her life? When two reporters from a tabloid newspaper get wind of the place, it appears that the decision may be out of Linnet's hands. The author wisely attempts no medical or evolutionary explanation for these winged humans. They simply are. The parallel with other groups who simply are and end up persecuted, will not escape perceptive readers. Characterization is a bit sketchy and motivations would benefit from more "show" and less "tell." Readers will wonder precisely what disagreement Ellen had with the leader of the Wings network that led her to keep all knowledge of it hidden from the others. If Jan has lived in this isolated place since she was ten, then who is the father of her son, Jake? The justification for the disappearance of Linnet's mother is frankly lame. These niggles, however, will not spoil the reader's enjoyment. Winter has a promising idea that is more than just a flight of fancy. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Houghton Mifflin, 224p, $15. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Kathleen Beck

SOURCE: VOYA,October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)

Children's Literature
This imaginative debut novel from Laurel Winters finds eleven-year-old Linnet faced with a singular dilemma—she is growing wings. Linnet learns that the same thing happened to her own mother, but her grandmother cut off her mother's wings, leaving her mother angry and embittered. Filled with unanswered questions, Linnet and her mother travel in search of others like her. Though tormented by her disfigurement, Linnet cannot help dreaming that perhaps someday she will be able to fly. Because of a mix-up, Linnet finds herself on her own. She turns to the grandmother she has never known, who takes her to a hidden camp, where Linnet finally discovers that she is not alone. Together with her newfound friends, Linnet becomes determined to literally test her wings. Despite pressures from both within the camp and without, Linnet is able to overcome the terrible loneliness that comes when you are different. 2000, Houghton Mifflin. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Christopher Moning
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-When 11-year-old Linnet begins to grow wings, her single mother explains that she, too, experienced the same changes as she approached puberty, but her mother brutally cut off her wings, leading to their eventual estrangement. When Linnet's mother inexplicably abandons her, the girl finds her grandmother, the only other person she thinks might be able to give her information about her wings. The woman then takes her to a secret sanctuary of winged people and cutwings-those who have lost their wings-in the wilds of Montana. As she and the other young people who live there experiment with flying and have some scary brushes with nosy reporters, Linnet begins to understand that she is not alone in the world and learns some secrets that will help her survive and thrive. Eventually her mother finds her and the residents of the sanctuary make plans for their future. While readers will relate to a preadolescent girl on the brink of big changes questioning her place in the world, the theme often overwhelms the plot, which is driven by several unbelievable contrivances, including Linnet's mother's disappearance. Wooden and unrealistic dialogue slows down the first chapter, but after that youngsters will discover a fast-paced and suspenseful fantasy.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
While 11 is a time in a girl's life when her body is undergoing changes, Linnet's physical changes are highly unusual—she is growing wings. To her amazement, this bizarre fact doesn't surprise her mother Sarah, who it turns out also had wings at Linnet's age. But Linnet's grandmother had cut off Sarah's wings, not being able to imagine her navigating her way though life with them. After the school term ends, Linnet insists on going to look for, as she puts it, "anyone else like me." After several days of travel and after being abandoned by her mother, Linnet ends up at her grandmother's, who takes Linnet to an isolated house way up in the mountains, a secret place where other winged people live. Safe in the community of others like herself, Linnet and one of the others, Andy, try to teach themselves to fly but for various aeronautical reasons, they are both unable to. Linnet and Andy finally realize that they are unwilling to hide for the rest of their lives, even if it means being called freaks by intolerant people. The two kids decide to take their chances in the outside world with non-winged people. Oddly, there is not much explanation and surprisingly little discussion in the book about how and why these particular people grew wings and what the significance is. While a few theories are bandied about, none are really explored. The plot and characterizations are not skillfully crafted enough to allow a suspension of disbelief, and the book veers towards pomposity, seemingly raising weighty, philosophical themes, but never really taking flight. (Fiction. 10-14)Winters, Kay TIGER TRAIL Illus. by Laura Regan Simon & Schuster (32 pp.) Oct. 1, 2000

From the Publisher
"A fast-paced and suspenseful fantasy." (School Library Journal)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
File size:
286 KB
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

"I grew up as an odd kid in the mountains of Montana," writes Laurel Winter. "I didn’t have wings, but I was klutzy and bookwormish and didn’t always fit in. I attended a one-room country school for eight grades." Today Laurel writes poems and short stories, and she loves to paint and draw and sculpt. She says this novel began as a short story, but its plot surprised her. Together with her husband and twin sons, she lives in Rochester, Minnesota. GROWING WINGS is her first novel.

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Growing Wings 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was interesting and very well thought out, but the many grammar mistakes make it hard for me to read. If you're a grammar freak like me, it's kind of annoying. Otherwise, it's AWESOME!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i first saw the cover of this book, i new it was a good book. I couldn't put it down. It's a book you don't want to miss.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Forget about the awkward stages of puberty. At age eleven, Linnet is going through something no other human has ever experienced - she's growing wings. And on top of that, her mother reveals a secret she's hidden from Linnet all her life - a set of scars on her shoulder blades from the wings that had been brutally cut from her back by her own mother. So maybe Linnet isn't the only one, after all. Masking her blossoming wings with her long hair and loose-fitting shirts, Linnet manages to get through the remainder of the school year without having her secret uncovered. But the pain of keeping her wings confined is nearly unbearable, and her mother finally takes Linnet away from their home, where the young girl suddenly finds herself among strangers - strangers with wings. Now that she's able to reveal her true form, Linnet becomes consumed by a desire to fly, even though the prospect of accomplishing it seems rather slim. Only one other, a girl named Andy, is just as determined to fly, driven by her yearning to escape the confines of the highly secretive stronghold. But Andy is moody and unpredictable, and as Linnet attempts to forge their relationship, she isn't completely sure she's willing to take the same risks as Andy to get what she wants. GROWING WINGS is more than a fantastic tale of humans with wings, it's a story of the human spirit and the heights one can reach with a bit of courage. Through vivid details, both in her settings and characters, Laurel Winter has done a splendid job of bringing this book to life, giving us, the readers, a chance to feel what it might be like to experience the freedom of flight.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kaitlin Camp More than 1 year ago
i read this book in sixth grade and im turning twenty this year,it has always been my favorite and i make an effort to read it every year! i suggest this to everyone! a truly timeless story that makes you wish you had wings!
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Flamingnet More than 1 year ago
"Growing Wings" by Laurel Winter follows an eleven-year- old girl called Linnet on her journey one summer. Her mother refuses to cut Linnet's hair, and Linnet's back is always itchy. Facts fall into place when Linnet finally has wings growing out of her back. Drama ensues with Linnet and her mother as family history is divulged. Then, through a series of events, the setting changes and more characters with wings are introduced. Mysteries still linger all throughout the book, but readers will relish the interactions amongst the winged characters, especially when a dangerous act of suspense threatens their lives. This book is a classic page-turner. Children will get lost in the pages as they walk alongside the characters. They will identify most with Linnet and feel connected to her. Descriptions of the winged characters are most breathtaking, not methodical like most fantasy books. At parts in the book--just when the reader thinks it will get boring because some situations can't last for another 70 pages or so--the author inserts something new to make the reader lean even further forward over the book in enthrallment. Reviewed by a young adult student reviewer Flamingnet Book Reviews Teen books reviewed by teen reviewers
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Guest More than 1 year ago
A very beautiful story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this a couple years ago and I really liked it. I was always into things about wings, and this one was pretty good. Its about a girl who grows wings and has to hide them most of the time. I dont what about it exactly, that got me to like it, but I do.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that the flying facter of the story was most intriguing. The stroy allowed you to just sit back and read. It kept my attention and I would read another one of Laurel Winter's books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story is GREAT! It is now one of my favorites. I love to read, and having read many books, have much experience in both good and bad books. This is an exceptional book! If you love Harry Potter and Holes, you will also love this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first saw this book, the subject interseted me, as I have always been fasinated with wings. But I was very disappionted when I read it. The writing was poor, and the story wasn't very elaborate. You could tell the aurthor had tried to put a great amount of emotion in it, and had failed miserably. I think with a little imagination and a different story line, the concept of growing wings could make a much better book. Maybe I am just used to reading outstanding books, but this one did not stand out to me at all.