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The author of a Book Sense 76 pick and Los Angeles Times Best Book, Nina Revoyr is a writer of rare voice and distinct talent. Wingshooters is the tale of an isolated, all-white community torn apart by prejudice after the arrival of a half-Japanese girl and a young black couple.
I lived throughout the Midwest and South during the 50s and 60s. In the South things were very tense. In the Midwest they seemed to me to be "above all that." I guess I was naive. I very much appreciate the non-hysterical revisiting of the era as I believe "we are doomed to repeat the past if we do not remember it." Many writers recalling the period jab us in the eye with the sharp stick of guilt. This book, counter the trend, is a well written, well narrated reminder of those days. Near perfect match of text to narrator. I'm tempted to say this is a "must read" for American high school students lest, as a society, we forget.
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Would you listen to Wingshooters again? Why?
A book that keeps your interest the entire way through and then stays with you when you are finished. Thought provoking and emotional.
What did you like best about this story?
The relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter.
What does Johanna Parker bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Voice inflection really brings out the emotions felt by the granddaughter.
Who was the most memorable character of Wingshooters and why?
Michelle, the granddaughter followed closely by Charlie, the grandfather because of their unusual and special relationship.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
In the 1970’s in the north, our country often represented a Caucasian demographic. As time progressed, African Americans migrated into the north, mainly to cities but eventually to suburbs and rural areas. The story of Wingshooters is narrated by Michelle, an eight year old child and chronicles the events that occurred after a black couple moves into a rural Wisconsin town. Mrs. Garrett, the wife takes a job in a local medical clinic as a nurse while Mr. Garrett begins as a substitute teacher at the local elementary. Their presence is anything but welcome by a majority of the people in town and events and situations escalate to tragic proportions. Michelle, as narrator offers incredible insight through both observation and reflection. Michelle’s perspective is especially unique since she is half Japanese and suffered a great deal of racism prior to the arrival of the Garrett’s.
Author, Nina Revoyr, provides a great deal for discussion in this important novel. Many of the adults never call the Garrett’s by name, dehumanizing them and even refer to Mr. Garrett as “the buck” symbolizing one to be hunted. There is a great deal in this novel ripe for analysis which makes it a top recommendation. Libraries: Buy multiple copies.
What disappointed you about Wingshooters?
Story is unbelievable. I am old enough to remember the 70s. The emotions and viewpoints grafted on to the characters in this book would be over the top for the 1940s. In the same year as this story was taking place, I, a minority, began working in a small town in rural Pennsylvania and experienced virtually none of the pushback overamped in this story. The story is delivered as flashback with dialog interspersed. "I was in the next room and couldn't hear what they were saying." Really? How does this advance the story? This is flashback! Those who are the "victims" of race hatred and fear are, er... whitewashed, and the villains are darkly painted with a heavy hand. I rarely review anything, but I was offended for the honor of the good people of the small town that accepted me in the mid 1970s. I have visited Wisconsin, have been to a few smaller towns (not many) in that state and have not encountered this animosity.
What could Nina Revoyr have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Made characters less morality play cardboard cutouts.
Which character – as performed by Johanna Parker – was your favorite?
The little girl reminds me a bit of my granddaughter, also half Asian, and one of the joys of my life! Totally accepted at school, by friends, neighbors and family.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
Sadly, no. The narrator was good.
Any additional comments?
Nina, get a different editor. It is hard to write a good book with a message. Your message screams, undoubtedly turning off anyone except true believers in a xenophobic Middle America. Be more subtle.
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