Wenny Has Wings

Wenny Has Wings

4.4 20
by Janet Lee Carey

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In the fight with the truck barreling toward them, Wenny and Will lost big. Wenny lost her life. Will lost a sister — and lost faith in himself.
But then Will starts writing letters to Wenny. He tells her all about the secret of his near-death experience, and the troubles he's having at home. Some letters are funny. Some letters are harsh. And when read


In the fight with the truck barreling toward them, Wenny and Will lost big. Wenny lost her life. Will lost a sister — and lost faith in himself.
But then Will starts writing letters to Wenny. He tells her all about the secret of his near-death experience, and the troubles he's having at home. Some letters are funny. Some letters are harsh. And when read together, they tell the story of a boy who finds a way to move past death and learns how to live again....

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews A heartrending glimpse into what happens in a family when a child dies.

Philadelphia Inquirer Affecting.

Publishers Weekly Poignant.

Children's Bookwatch Highly recommended.

Publishers Weekly
This "heartrending novel," in PW's words, unfolds as a series of letters written by an 11-year-old to his younger sister, who was killed in an accident. Ages 8-12. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Will North, age eleven, and his younger sister both die when they were hit by a truck. He recalls seeing Wendy flying ahead of him toward a bright light. He started to follow her but thinks of his parents and is brought back into life. Will now has to learn to cope with his near death experience as well as grieving for his sister. He experiences guilt over his sister's death, yet is angry with his parents who can't seem to enjoy life anymore. Will is also angry with Wendy for leaving them all behind. Overwhelmed with his feelings, Will decides to write letters to Wendy that are honest and heartfelt. He tells of ways he tries to make his parents happy and laugh again. Five months later Will has filled his entire notebook with letters; he isn't so angry anymore and his parents are healing. A story of love, loss and hope, this book will have readers laughing and crying. 2002, Antheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster,
— Michele Wilbur
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6 Will North, 11, is in the hospital recuperating from an accident in which his little sister was killed. While still in the emergency room, he sees her flying free and happy in the sky, but returns to his body after seeing his parents' grief. He cannot speak to them about his survivor's guilt, his anger at his sister for dying, or his near-death experience. His father in particular has great difficulty in coping with his loss, eventually leaving the family in order to sort things out. Mr. James, a church youth leader, gives Will a notebook in which to write his feelings and the boy decides to write letters to Wenny, telling her what is going on. Through friendship with his good-natured hospital roommate and the patient, nonjudgmental Mr. James, Will works through the stages of grief and begins healing. The ending is hopeful, with the entire family enrolled in counseling. This book is a useful meditation on death and guilt, particularly for letting children know that adults may have difficulty in dealing with their emotions. Although Will can be a bit disingenuous and the other characters are not fully fleshed out, this novel's unusual focus on near-death experiences should appeal to some readers. -B. Allison Gray, South Country Library, Bellport, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A gentle epistolary novel requiring at least three hankies. Eleven-year-old Will writes to his seven-year-old sister Wenny. A truck hit them both on their way to a craft store, and Wenny was killed. Will remembers a dark tunnel and a bright warm light; he remembers seeing his little sister fly past him into that light. Through months of healing his broken parts, Will writes to Wenny about how much he misses her; about how angry he is that she left them; about how pinched and cold his father and his pregnant mother are; and how there is no light or air around them, and no words for him. The tropes of boyhood-family pets, toy action figures, a tree house, a spitting contest, and, above all, the creek tunnel the kids call "the tunnel of death"-function almost as sacraments. Will's dad moves out for a while, Will and his mother try to re-make Wenny's room for the new baby, Will finds a way to celebrate Wenny's birthday. His grief comes in almost textbook steps, but Carey's (Molly's Fire, 2000) sweet and pointed language saves it from mawkishness, illuminating those steps vividly. Like Susan Katz's Snowdrops for Cousin Ruth (1998), it allows a heartrending glimpse into what happens in a family when a child dies. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Dear Wenny,

I died too. Not when the truck first hit us, but right after in the hospital. I had a broken leg and a ruptured spleen, and I was bleeding inside and outside. I was pretty messed up by the truck, and while they were trying to fix me, my heart stopped for a whole ten minutes.

I sped through a tunnel when I died, then I flew around in the sky. I'd be flying up there with you still if Dr. Westfall hadn't put two paddles on my chest and shot electric energy into my heart.

Those paddles must have had a lot of power, because they sucked me back inside my body. Once my heart started pumping again, the doctors gave me an operation and filled me up with new blood so I would stay alive.

When I woke up, I found out you didn't come back like I did. I asked Mom if Dr. Westfall used those electric paddles on your heart, but she wouldn't give me an answer. She just started crying and had to leave the room.

So you're flying around up there in that good place, and I'm stuck down here at Children's Hospital with stitches in my side and with my leg all bandaged up because they had to put my shinbone back together.

DAY 10

Dear Wenny,

Today is October 16. It's been ten days since I died and came back. That's why I wrote "Day 10" on the top of this letter. I want to keep track of how many days I've been alive again.

One bad thing happened while I was outside my body, but I don't want to talk about that, I want to talk about the happy part. I still have some good leftover feelings from the time I spent inside the light. It's like that good, bright light leaked into me while I was up there, and I brought some of it back. I'd be completely happy if you had come back too. We could talk about what it was like to zoom through the air and do double jumps in the sky.

I'm already starting to miss you. A big brother gets used to having a little sister around. If you were here, you'd press my control buttons so my hospital bed would go up and down. You'd want to take both cookies off my lunch tray. You'd steal my bedpan so I'd have to ask for help if I needed to pee.

I missed your memorial service on Sunday because I had to stay here in the hospital. Sometimes I start to think about you being dead and never coming back to live with us, and I have to put the pillow over my face so nobody will hear my crying.

DAY 11

Dear Wenny,

All day long nurses keep coming into my room, saying, "Hi, Will. How's the leg?"

"Okay," I say, which is a total lie. Then they take my temperature and blood pressure and shoot medicine into my IV. In case you want to know, an IV's an upside-down water bottle on a pole. Medicine runs down a long tube and into a needle that's stuck in my left hand. The medicine goes into my blood and spreads around my whole body.

If you think I'm having trouble playing video games with a needle jammed in the back of my hand, you're wrong. Today I played Zorgon Tracker. I killed about a gazillion zorgons and made it to the eighth level, which is, like, impossible unless you're a total wiz-nerd.


I tried to tell Mom and Dad what happened when I died, but it didn't work out so good. As soon as I started talking about the truck hitting us and how I died, Mom sat down and covered her face. She had to use a bunch of tissues from my tissue box to wipe her eyes and blow her nose.

Dad didn't cry like Mom, but he didn't look at me either. He just grabbed my bed rail and stared out the window. With his dark hair and pale skin, he looked like one of those black-and-white pictures he takes.

I gave up talking to them. I'll try to tell them some other time. Right now I'm wiped out. I've signed up for the TV so I can play Zorgon Tracker again this afternoon. I'm going to win the gut zapper on the ninth level, then I'm going to fight my way to the tenth level before dinner, I've decided.

DAY 12

Dear Wenny,

The truck driver sent us an "I'm so sorry" card. Mom and Dad showed it to me this afternoon. The cover has pink and yellow flowers on it (girl stuff). The card says his brakes went out all of a sudden while he was going down that steep hill. He was honking for us to get out of the way. He swerved and tried not to hit us, and he is so sorry. If there is anything he can do, he'll do it.

The card made Mom cry. She yanked a bunch of Kleenex from my box and made these little gulping sounds. Dad stood behind her with his hands on her shoulders. He squinted at my IV bag and clenched his jaw. I could see the muscles in his cheeks moving in and out like he was trying to crack a jawbreaker.

"I need to use the toilet," I said. Dad helped me into my wheelchair and pushed me to the bathroom. I didn't have to pee. I just had to get out of that room. I didn't want to see Dad's jaw muscles bulging out or hear Mom making those little gulping sounds anymore.


Dear Wenny,

You'd better be awake, because I had a bad dream. We were walking on a road in a dark forest. There was just one streetlamp. All of a sudden the trees kind of melted. A big green truck hit you and crushed you. It hit me and sent me flying across the road.

I woke up all sweaty. I crushed the card the truck driver sent me and threw it into the laundry hamper with all the puked-on sheets.

DAY 13

Dear Wenny,

I couldn't talk today. I knew if I tried to talk, I'd cry, so I kept my mouth shut. I know you're happy zooming around up there in that warm light. Maybe you've learned how to do flips in the air by now, so you probably don't miss me like I miss you.

I miss you hard, with an ache in my stomach and a sandpaper feeling all down my throat. I miss you like a big, empty, shut-up, quiet space torn out of my guts, and nothing can patch up that great big ugly hole you left.

If I'd stayed dead and flown farther in to meet that light person with you, I'd be in heaven now. I'd be feeling just fine. I wouldn't have this operation scar or this pain in my leg. I wouldn't be stuck in this stupid hospital bed. I wouldn't have to look at Dad's face.

I didn't even talk when Dad came to visit me today. He played cards with me awhile, then left. I was glad to see him go. I don't like being around him right now. His eyes look like his darkroom at home. I mean no light in them at all. When he looks at me, I want to punch his face and make him fly across the room. Then maybe he'd get mad and I'd see something different in his eyes.

Only it's not Dad I want to punch, it's you. I want to punch your face for leaving me alone down here.

I'm sorry this letter is so messy. You can show it to God if you want. He can mark it up with his red pen and give me a big, fat F, for all I care!

Copyright © 2002 by Janet Lee Carey

Meet the Author

JANET LEE CAREY grew up in Marin County California surrounded by whispering redwoods. Sunlight cut through ocean mist and fingered through the branches. It was in this magical place that she first dreamed of writing books. Her award-winning teen fantasy novels are translated into many languages. Some include: The Dragons of Noor, which won a Teens Read Too Gold Star Award for Excellence, Stealing Death, which received a School Library Journal starred review, Dragon’s Keep, an ALA Best Books for Young Adults, and Wenny Has Wings, a Mark Twain Award recipient and a Sony Feature Film Japan, 2008. Janet lives with her family, dusty book stacks, and imperious cat near Phantom Lake in Washington. Visit Janet online at www.janetleecarey.com.

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Wenny Has Wings 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Greif is a very tragic feeling, especially when it's because of the death of a child. Adding a new baby on the way, well that just creates a whirlwind of emotions for one ordinary family. Wenny has Wings, written by Janet Lee Carey, is a powerful tale of a little boy who has lost a little too much. On the day of his sister's death...Will was right there. He saw everything. He saw his best friend die right before his eyes. When in the waiting room, when the doctor delivered the news to his parents, he will never forget the harsh, cruel, disturbing words his father said. Feeling alone, will decides to write letters to his sister in Heaven. Some are comical, some are filled with malice and hate, while others are emotional. But when you put all of them together they tell a moving tale about a boy healing and learning how to deal with death, and letting go of something that no longer exists. While this is happening Will's parents make him see a theripest, and there in that room Will is able to tell a dark secret that on one else knows about that he's been hiding this entire time. It's not only one that will leave his parents stunned, but doctors too. This book is written in a way to see tradgey from a child's point-of-view. That alone makes the book very eye-opening to children's emotions. Janet Lee Carey did an amazing job of make the plot enjoyable and understndable. It's a book for all ages and teaches us that life can end at any moment, so live it to the fullest!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so touching! After Will's sister dies in a car accident, he starts writing letters to her. This book has inspired me to write my own book which hopefully will be half as good as this one! I just started, but who knows???
baybay31 More than 1 year ago
This book was so good!! Will is very well described. I would recomend this book for 6th graders and up because it is kind of depressing but don't get me wrong it's one of the best books I've ever read!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
smiley-- More than 1 year ago
when my little sister brought this book home from school and left it on the kitchen table, i never expected to be drawn to it. after reading the first few pages i knew i had to finish it. it was an amazing story that broke my heart a few times. will's letters to wenny were just so honest and emotional (sometimes angry, sometimes sad) just like kids are. this is definitely one of the best stories i've ever read.
Wenny More than 1 year ago
When 11 year old Will and his 7 year old sister Wenny are hit by a truck, Will speeds through a tunnel. He sees Wenny ahead, as well as a beautiful golden light. But when he thinks of his parents on Earth, he gets pulled back. Read through this wonderful book of Will's life without Wenny, the experiences he goes through, and the realationships he gains. This book will make you cry, smile, laugh, think, and wonder like it did to me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book. I've read it many times. It's haunting; but I wonder about letting a young child read it. It's told from a child's perspective, but it's almost too much for me (age 66). Have your Kleenex or a hanky handy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wenny Has Wings. Janet Lee Carey. Aladdin. Realistic Fiction. Have you ever done something that you regretted? In Wenny Has Wings by Janet Lee Carey, Will regrets many things that have happened in his life. Will, one of the main characters, has many problems that need to be solved. In Will¿s life he and his sister get hit by a truck while crossing the road into town. After Will and his sister get hit by the truck she dies, and he gets sent to the hospital where he also dies. Although Will died he came back to life because the hospital shocked his body. Will has to stay in the hospital for a few weeks but when he leaves, he find he is in some trouble. He acts up in school, doesn¿t listen to teachers, and he doesn¿t care. Will¿s friend Gallagher and Will try to contact Wenny in heaven and it goes well until Will¿s baby-sitter comes in and stops them. When Wenny¿s birthday came around, Will and Gallagher sent her a present. They went into the woods and tied the present to a balloon and let it float in the air hoping that Wenny would get it. Will and Wenny had some good times that will always be known as memories. Will, the protagonist in the story, is a good guy but a guy who causes trouble. He is always blaming things on himself. For example, he thinks it is his fault his sister died because he let her go to the store and that¿s where they got hit by the tuck. He is in a lot of pain because of loosing his only sister but there is another baby on the way. He is very important in this story because he is the one who writes all the letter to Wenny and tells her how things are going. Will¿s mom, otherwise known as ¿the mess,¿ is going through a hard time because she lost her own daughter. She is very emotional about it. Will¿s mom is very sad and hurting inside throughout the whole book. She misses Wenny so much that she changes into another person. She looks like a mess and cries all the time. Will¿s mom is very quiet. Wenny, known as the antagonist in the story, is a very playful, funny, and cute little girl. She has curly blonde hair which was rather long. Wenny always wore little dresses otherwise known as jumper. She always made Will get blamed for stuff she did. Wenny was a trouble maker but a very cute and sensitive little girl. All these characters are very important throughout the whole book. Wenny Has Wings is a very good book because it¿s setup in letters. The letters makes it easier to read. It is very unique because not many books are written in this style. This book could help someone that's going through a hard time. The book is emotional because Will lost his sister and his parents lost their daughter. It might help someone who is going through a similar situation. I highly recommend that you should read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my fave book! It touches my heart. It is a great book for adults as well as children. I like this author alot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my fave book! It touches my heart. It is a great book for adult as well as children.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is so touching...i read it over and over again. i have NEVER EVER found a book better than this one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have ever read. It's so touching. The journey that Will goes through is so emotional. It made me look at life with a different perspective, This book is amazing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm so glad that Carey wrote this book. It's very down to earth and really looks into the heart of a young boy who lost his sister. It tells of his saddening trials and experiences after her death and about his attempts to cheer up his family. But it's a bit hard with his father who deeply misses his little girl. Overall, i loved this book, it was heart touching and a great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THis is a wonderful book that makes you feel sad when something happens to one of the characters. Right at the beginnign you know yo are in for a bumpey ride with the characters. You feel like you are swept into the book standing next to the characters. I think that this book deserves a 5 star because it is a wonderful book that shows what heppens when a person very dear to you dies. I think that this boook should be your number one read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved wenny has wings it's heart warming, scary, and fun. I know you'll enjoy it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After the death of Will's sister, Wenny, Will begins to write letters to Wenny.. This book was a very heartwarming book. i loved it! Awesome book! (Hi people who are reading this!)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is most certainly a book that looks into the true life of a young boy learning how to deal with the loss of his little sister, Wenny. I'm glad that this author decided to write out a real story, honest and true. This book is not morbid, just a description and a look into the lives of those left behind. I would definitely recommend this book on the basis of the fact that we all need to the continue on and learn to cope our lives when we have a horrible loss of someone very special.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i havent read this book and i cant wait cause i heard about it and it sounded good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could tell you how much I, as an adult, love this book and love Will North as he works out his grief and guilt in angry, wistful, hysterical letters to his little sister. I could tell you that it strikes a chord in anyone who has lost someone. I could tell you how happy I am to see a pastor in children's literature who is not weird. He is all human, funny, patient and empathetic---just what Will needs right now. (Check out the treehouse scene with these two.) Or I could tell you how I watched the other day at a picnic as a bored 17-year-old girl picked up the book and started reading...and reading.... She had to be torn away from the book when it was time to leave. It is not just "heartrending" and "a tearjerker," as some reviewers are saying. It's funny and serious all at once, like "Bridge Over Terebithia." It is all about how life down on earth must go on for one child when he's found out what is really going on behind the curtain. It's just so hard to explain that to your parents. Like the best children's books, this is for adults as well as children. Perfect for teachers to read or assign to kids 8-12, and for counselors to give grieving families.