When I see a book that has a beach on the cover, there are a few things that I automatically assume. First, I assume that the book is going to be light and breezy and fun. Second, I assume that the book is going to have a swoonworthy romance. Third, I assume that I will finish the book in record time. On Little Wings by Regina Sirois has a beach on it’s cover and indeed, takes place in Maine in a beach town, but it is far from light and breezy. Instead, On Little Wings comes across as a pretty serious read about family secrets, first love, and finding the courage to do tough things.
Jennifer has lived in Nebraska all her life. She is an only child who has had a relatively happy childhood. Her parents are in a loving relationship. She’s close with her mom. She has a beautiful best friend named Cleo. Yet, her life does a 180 when Jennifer opens a book when a photograph of a ballerina who is her spitting image falls out. It is then that Jennifer discovers she has a SECRET aunt that she never knew about. Turns out, there was a huge falling out. So, against her mother’s wishes, Jennifer flies out to Maine to spend the summer with her aunt Sarah. While there, she meets a boy, Nathan who is very, very smart and also quite different from her. She also meets a 90-something year old lady named Lilian who goes by Little. Little is the town eccentric and tells Jennifer that she will share her love story when Jennifer shares one.
Okay, this is going to sound kind of bad, but for a lot of On Little Wings I kind of zoned on what the main character’s name was. I knew that she was a lot like wheat fields because that was repeated a lot. Also, that she was shy and not very self confident or brave. Yet, for some odd reason as I read I kept forgetting her name. Then again, it’s not like the book kept saying her name over and over during conversations. It’s told in first person so it would make sense that Jennifer does not say ‘Jennifer did this’ as opposed to ‘I did this’. Anyways, I was not irritated by Jennifer as a character, but I did not find her to be too terribly compelling. It seemed like the secondary characters were much more interesting than the main character. Like, Sarah, her aunt who never married, who went to Africa, who sang, who danced. She’s interesting. Or Little, who was an actress in her heyday and now is totally one of those awesome little old ladies who does whatever she wants.
I would say that Nathan is more interesting than Jennifer, and he is. However, I just was not that into him as a love interest. In their first meeting, he is incredibly rude to Jennifer. Then, they have this whole attraction thing, but we know this because we are told, not because there was any real chemistry that I could detect. I just felt like the romance was forced. I get that both characters are smart and read books, but I never got the sense that their romance had any real spark. Instead, I felt like Nathan should make up his damn mind and stop being such a jerk. Like, he’s not overtly a jerk, he just is socially awkward and it comes across and for me, someone who knows how to act around other people for the most part, I took most of his actions as he is being weird and toying with Jennifer. Alas, I think some people might like this romance and see it for something that is quiet and steady, but not me.
Yet, On Little Wings excels with it’s portrayal of setting. I really loved how Sirois portrayed the small Maine town of Smithport, peopled with eccentric citizens. It kind of reminded me of Stars Hollow, only set on the Ocean. The men of the town are grisled fishermen, or at least that was my impression based on the ones who were in the book – this group of old men known as the Jacks. Anyways, I just loved that the sea was a character almost, and seemed to take on a life of it’s own in this book, much mention is made of how it affects life and how it draws people to it. I loved that Smithport really shaped the characters in On Little Wings.
I think that Sirois’s book, On Little Wings will work for some people – probably those people who look at the cover and do not make the snap judgments I did. Personally, I felt like the book dragged on and on. I found myself uninterested in Jennifer, but I read on because I wanted to know why Sarah and Jennifer’s mom, Claire, had such a huge falling out. Even that was not terribly satisfactory. However, I think my issue is that I was looking for a loud sort of book, and this is one that is quiet. So, if you’re into that or in the mood for that, On Little Wings is one you should check out.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.
Other reviews of On Little Wings by Regina Sirois:
Kate’s Tales Of Books And Bands – “You guys, I love this book so hard core!”
Taking It One Page At A Time – “This book was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking”
Star Crossed – “a story to savor”