Summer Stevenson is an 11-year-old military kid who dreams of having a permanent home and swimming in the Olympics one day, just like her idol, Olympian Lia Neal. But those things seem out of reach as her parents, "the heroes", continually move the family from house to house like boxed-up toys.
After their last move, she thought her life would never change, but now the moving truck is idling in front of her house again, this time taking the family to Valencia, a small town in Southern California known for its bike trails, roller coasters, and great schools. But things aren't so great for Summer. She worries constantly that her fighter-pilot mom could be redeployed at any moment, and she struggles to make new friends, finding herself in humiliating circumstances with her neighbors.
Summer sees a glimmer of hope when her parents sign her up for competitive swimming, but she turns out to be the worst swimmer on the team. Inspired by nature and drawing support from friendships both old and new, including those with Grandma "Bachaan", her coaches, and other kids on the swim team, Summer seeks the courage she'll need to tackle life's challenges. It isn't until her little sister is in an accident that Summer truly finds the source of her inner strength and uses it to face her greatest fears head on.
©2015 Veda Stamps (P)2015 Veda Stamps
Heart warming, heart wrenching and dynamic!
Yes, when her sister got hurt and for the first time Summer reacted with maturity.
Summer just seemed to be a little self-centered girl. As the book progresses, we see her mature and become independent and responsible. Great story? Super ending! Definitely a must read.
Good book! hope there will be more coming from this author.
Flexible Wings was an amazing tale of what a child goes through when her parents are in the military. In our generation a lot of kids, know all too well what it’s like to have their parents oversees fighting for this country. A lot kids have experienced losing their parents because of war, and it’s hard on the kids that go through these situations.
Summer battles all these emotions that any middle schooler shouldn’t have to go through. And we watch and feel her hurt as she goes through the motions of trying to cope without her mom. Not only does her mom leave on military business, but she also moves to a new place and has to make new friends, which is never easy for any child to have to do. And if you’ve ever moved to a new school, you know just how tough making new friends can actually be.
Summer’s life is an emotional roller coaster in Flexible Wings. Things finally start looking up for her when she joins the swim team. She makes friends and finally feels like she belongs somewhere. But like life things take a turn and don’t end up happily, or so she thinks. And for a pre-teen she feels like her life is falling apart at times. Abandoned by her mother and friends, with only her little sister by her side.
The characters are well-rounded and make the story all the more heart-tugging. Because they go through the motions like an average person would, and the emotions aren’t glorified or written out as if they don’t’ exist, which I feel is often done in some situations. And the story is told in such a way that it feels like it really happened and that Summer and her family aren’t fictional characters.
Veda Stamps has a way with words and paints a vivid picture of everything happening in her story and leaves you with a different perspective. We don’t necessarily see the hurting child when we make decisions of moving to another town, but in Flexible Wings, she definitely shows you what happens when you uproot your family and how one tiny decision affects everyone in big ways.
I read this middle grade fiction novel with the eyes of a mother, so found much of it touching, heart-wrenching and insightful. The issues of military children moving frequently has been on my mind a lot recently as I am a military spouse and our family is due to move at the end of the year, so this was a perfect time for me to pick this book up.
I loved that Summer was a mature 11-year-old, not a whiny brat or a kid that kept making bad choices. I enjoyed reading about the unique parts of her life - a garden full of hummingbirds (I've never seen a hummingbird) and her African-American/Japanese heritage. The desire to fit in is universal though, and I particularly related to that - as much now as well as when I was a child.
I listened to the audiobook, which I received free in exchange for an honest review. The narrator was a perfect match for this book, easy to listen to and a good match for a mature 11-year-old protagonist.
4.25 ★ Audiobook⎮ I was initially hesitant to accept this audiobook for review because I have not had good experiences with the middle-grade genre in the past. As a 28-year-old, I think that’s fairly understandable. However, I agreed to the review for three reasons: 1) The length- 4.5 hours is not a huge sacrifice of my time, even if I turned out not to enjoy the book. 2) The narrator- A big problem I have had with middle-grade audiobooks in the past has been the narrator overly playing the voice of juvenile characters. In the Percy Jackson series and Miss Peregrine series, for example, I felt the narrator (who was coincidentally the same guy) played into the youth and immaturity of the main character’s voice too much, which made the story hard to take seriously. In this case, Natalie Hoyt voiced the young protagonist very delicately, capturing the character’s youthful innocence without sounding petulant. 3) The diversity- To be honest, this was the main draw. The main character’s diverse heritage (African American and Japanese) is frequently addressed as a point of internal pride and external conflict in her life. There has been a big push lately for more diverse books and I have to agree. The diversity in Flexible Wings was utterly refreshing.
This story was written beautifully, with an air of authenticity. It was clearly written to deliver a particular message to the reader and I suspect a fair amount of the inspiration may have been gleaned from the author’s own experiences. I cannot emphasize enough how maturely and realistically the main character, Summer, was written. It surprised me how much I was able to relate to an 11-year-old and her struggles, even though I have never experienced anything similar to them. I commend Veda Stamps for recognizing that a child protagonist does not have to behave childishly. Summer’s grace and maturity really helped me relate to her and like her as a character, which also speaks to the excellent character development. For such a powerful story to be told in 4.5 hours, it also speaks to Stamps excellent writing ability. I highly recommend this story for children with parents in the military, children (or anyone) from diverse backgrounds, children who move around a lot, and children who love competitive swimming. Of course, I also recommend this to anyone who enjoys the middle-grade genre. Like I said, this story seems to be aimed at a younger audience, but is written in a way that has a much wider appeal.
➜ Narration review: For me, Natalie Hoyt’s narration was the star of this audiobook. As I’ve said (probably in every other review), narration is critical to defining the success of an audiobook. Specifically, Hoyt’s vocal tone lent seriousness and reverence to the subject matter that may not have been relayed as effectively if voiced by another narrator. She clearly understood Summer as a character and brought her to life accordingly. In my opinion, Hoyt was a fantastic choice to narrate this audiobook. Her inflection was spot-on, which made the audio experience seem more like a performance (without being over-the-top) than a reading. I, personally, appreciate her vocal interpretation of the many young characters, which made the listening experience not only tolerable, but enjoyable! ♣︎
➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author and publisher, Veda Stamps, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Veda!
FLEXIBLE WINGS is told from the alternately hopeful and angst-ridden point of view of Summer, a biracial pre-teen who struggles with her transient "military brat" lifestyle. After moving from Berkeley to Valencia, California, Summer joins the local swim team in search of personal fulfillment and a sense of belonging. Just as she begins to settle into her new reality, Summer faces challenges that test her ability to handle adversity with grace and maturity.
Stamp delivers a beautifully truthful and engaging coming-of-age story. The cast of characters includes a good-hearted, relatable heroine, an adoring (and adorable) little sister, an insightful and sassy bachaan (aka grandma) and parents who, sometimes, treat their daughter more like a soldier than a confused, scared young girl.
An entertaining and satisfying read for both young readers and adults.
*Note: The voice actor, Natalie Hoyt, who narrated the audiobook was wonderful!
It makes me happy to wake up everyday and look forward to listening. Many times I listen while doing artwork. I find it very relaxing.
"Flexible Wings" was a very well-written and well performed audiobook. It was such a good listen that it was hard to put down for a YA (Young Adult) story. I'm not sure about the specified age group of 8-10 year olds. I sincerely feel that the topics are too much drama for this age group. Being an adult, I enjoyed it. This story had great world building with Summer, the protagonist being a "military brat" and the metaphoric hummingbird.
Why I would be cautious for pre-teens: The mom in the story who, along with the dad has chosen a military career but the mom is somehow portrayed as being a "bad parent" and is treated disrespectful by Summer while being deployed. This does however resolve itself at the end which made me happy. All in all this was great writing by Veda Stamps.
Natalie Hoyt did an amazing job narrating this audiobook. Her performance was enthralling as well as engaging. She hit it out of the park. She was the epitome of Summer with her highs and lows. I was impressed with her talent and I love it when author and reader are a perfect match.
"This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast."
Touching, Heartwarming, Intelligent
It may be too easy to say Summer is my favorite character, but she kept me invested and kept me rooting for her to succeed.
Natalie brings a very entertaining performance, one that kept me from tuning out and demanded to be heard.
I don't want to spoil anything. You should listen to it for yourself.
Thank you to Veda Stamps for allowing me to listen to your strong, innocent, and memorable story - with equally memorable narration by Natalie Hoyt - that people of all ages would enjoy reading.
I was never an army brat, but my family and I moved from New York to Virginia during my middle school and high school years, so I understood what Stamps' main character Summer had to go through in this story. Stamps takes her time allowing us to know so much of Summer, her little sister, and the rest of her family that it's not long before you're fully invested, and I'd have to assume that Stamps has a lot of experience in her own life to draw from because everything felt genuine here, especially when it came to Summer finding something in her new life that would allow her to soar in a way that she never imagined. (It reminded me very much of when I re-discovered theatre.)
And since this is an audiobook, so much credit also must be given to Natalie Hoyt. She wasn't just reading this, she was full-on performing it, and giving us a variety of characters in a way that's very inspiring to me.
I would give a copy of this to my nieces in a heartbeat. I know they'll love it. You will too.
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