The Anatomy of Wings
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The Anatomy of Wings

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  596 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Ten-year-old Jennifer Day lives in a small mining town full of secrets. Trying to make sense of the sudden death of her teenage sister, Beth, she looks to the adult world around her for answers.

As she recounts the final months of Beth’s life, Jennifer sifts through the lies and the truth, but what she finds are mysteries, miracles, and more questions. Was Beth’s death an a...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published September 3rd 2007)
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Jillian -always aspiring-
This is the story of Elizabeth Day. I have pieced it together with my own hands. I have made it from things I saw and things I did not see but later knew. It is made from the tatters of terrible things and the remnants of wonderful things. I have sewn it together before it fades.

I won't lie: The Anatomy of Wings was an impulse buy. I was looking boredly through the young adult section at Borders, willing something to jump out at me -- and I saw this book. The Anatomy of Wings. "What a pretty tit...more
I’m going to admit up front, friends, that my understanding of Australia is that it’s filled with animals that want to kill you and plants that want to kill you and fish that want to kill you and people who used to want to kill you back when they were all criminals, and everyone lives on the beach and/or on top of Ayers Rock, and they eat a shit ton of Vegemite, and have the most ridiculous school-related ads I have ever seen, ever, and one of their prime ministers got eaten by jellyfish or some...more
I found this book an interesting read. We get to watch a young teen (Beth) spiral out of control - into drugs, sex, and depression -- through the eyes of her younger sister, Jenny. Jenny and her friend begin to investigate the events surrounding Beth's death. I loved the parts of the book that focused on Beth's behavior and her family's reaction to those behaviors and her death. It felt honest, and was very compelling to read.

However, a few things the author did made it hard for me to completely...more
I'm not really sure why I finished this. I was completely lost the first 50 pages. The author was trying so hard to be poetic and abstract that I was completely confused. The sentences were often structured in a confusing way as well.
I figured it had to get better, but then as the story unfolded it was depressing and sent mixed messages. Why was she getting lighter when inside she was getting darker and lost? Was the ending supposed to be uplifting?
Why, when it seemed the story was being told by...more
Jennifer Day’s big sister Beth has died, and her family isn’t coping. Aged only ten, Jenny tries to make sense of what has happened, trying to unravel Beth’s secrets while also dealing with her parents’ and sister Danielle’s distress. She has to confront Beth’s bad-girl reputation in a tough outback mining town, survive at school and manage her own grief as the fragile remnants of her family tear each other apart. The trauma of all this has robbed her of her powerful singing voice and although s...more
The last line of the Goodreads summary says it all. I was initially hesitant to read this, just because it is meant to deal with a lot of big issues through the eyes of a 10-year-old. I was pleasantly surprised by the whole thing. Jenny Day's voice is poignant and tells a story that everyone else is afraid to.

The story is told through flashbacks. Jenny is trying to figure out why she can no longer sing since her sister passed away. She believes that the two events are connected and is trying to...more
Told from the point of view of a younger sister, this is the story of a girl, Beth, that mysteriously goes wild, to the point of no return. Her family slowly falls apart and piece by piece we are given the story that leads to her death.

Set in a small Austrailian mining town in the late 70's early 80's, the story feels very disconnected 2009 US. The story felt surreal throughout, although the situations that Beth found herself in could all be relevant to teens here today--opportunities to experim...more
Zooey Riveria
I loved this book. I don't care what the low rating on this page proves, it proves nothing and does the book absolutely no justice. The Anatomy of Wings was downright awesome and beautiful and painful to read. I couldn't even try to explain what this book was about without sounding boring but this is not a boring book. I repeat, NOT A BORING BOOK. It's just so different in the sense that the topics they touch on is revealed so raw and real to the readers. The book's most outstanding qualities is...more
Not in the least impressed. The story in confusing and jumps in too many tangents that I just do not have the desire to try to figure out its purpose. The language is terrible and unacceptable and I was really not impressed with the author's idea of a 13 year old sleeping with a man in order to "free" or "fix" him as the character constantly feels compelled to do with insects and ruining the main characters life while she is at it. Not worth finishing or starting. I am sorry I gave it the time I...more
Michelle Arrow
I hated this book. I couldn't even finish it because it was so boring. It doesn't even tell you how Beth died! It tells you how Jenny and Angela use a book of cases to figure out the mystery but half the time to doesn't mention it at all! Don't waste your money on this book, it not worth a cent.
Morgan H
After about the first 50 pages, I was going to put this book down, and no longer read it, because it just did not pull me in immediately. When I finally decided that this book at some point had to get better and continued reading I feel in love. I'm not a big reader, so really this book was a good step in the right direction. It's about a girl named Jennifer Day, whose older sister Beth, eventually dies towards the end of the book; no I didn't just ruin it, the whole book they tell you that she...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
When Jennifer, or Jenny as she is know by her friends, looses her sister, she has no clue why this horrible thing has occurred. Her sister, Beth, was beautiful, popular, smart, and according to their grandma, Beth could talk to angels. Plus, now that Beth is gone Jennifer has lost her stunning ability to sing. Every time that she opens her mouth, the words just will not come out. So now with the help of her best friend, Grace, Jenny is on a hunt to figure out what went wrong with her sister. In...more
Lorena del Llano
In a mining town full of secrets, located in, Queensland Australia, Jennifer Day is coming to terms with the loss of her older sister. Beth committed suicide and Jenny is trying to make sense of her sisters death by piecing together the final months of her life. Jenny attempts to accomplish this alongside her best friend, Angela by rummaging through a box Jenny's mom guards carefully containing all of Beth's last possessions. Initially, they where doing this to find Jenny's singing voice, which...more
“Jennifer Day lives in a small Australian mining town full of secrets. After the sudden death of her teenage sister [Eliza:]Beth, Jennifer uncovers a blue cardboard box of her sister’s processions—a black rubber-band bracelet, a silver necklace with a half-a-broken-heart pendant, an address written in a leftward-slanting hand on a scrap of paper, and ballets slippers wrapped in their laces.

Why couldn’t Jennifer—or anyone else—save Beth? Their parents blame Beth’s friends and themselves, and Jenn...more
I just looked at this cover, and I knew I wanted to read this. The image is fantastic and the text placement is extremely eye-catching. Then after reading the summary I thought this sounded like something I would enjoy. However it was not quite what I expected. For some reason I was expecting the narrator to be older, but I actually was okay with Jennifer being young. What really disppointed me though, was just how depressing the story turned out to be.

The mystery of Beth’s death drives the stor...more
This is a hard one to review. I started this book and after 70 pages I was going to put it down and not continue. You should know that I almost never begin a book and not finish it. I had read such great reviews on this book though and it made me mad to give up on it. I started to think - am I not the literary genius I think I am? (Obviously not!) There was nothing wrong with this book other than it went into such great detail. It was like a vivid picture was painted with each written sentence....more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katie (Books and Katie)
This was the most beautifully crafted book I have ever read.

There were so many things I loved about it; Things that made me mad, sad, happy, and repeat those three emotions all over again.


Ten-year-old Jennifer Day lives in a small mining town full of secrets. Trying to make sense of the sudden death of her teenage sister, Beth, she looks to the adult world around her for answers.

As she recounts the final months of Beth’s life, Jennifer sifts through the lies and the truth, but what she...more
Maree Kimberley
I absolutely loved this book. I bought it at the Brisbane Writers Festival on a whim, and didn't know anything about the book or its author when I picked it up. It grabbed me from the first line and didn't let go.

It's a very Australian story in terms of setting but its themes of grief and loss are universal. At times I found it unbearably sad, as Jennie and her family struggle to deal with the weight of the absence left after the death of Beth, Jennie's older sister. But Jennie also has a warmt...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

Her sister Beth is gone, and Jenny wants to understand why it all happened. At ten years old, she knows no one will tell her the truth, so she is determined to discover it for herself.

Her search begins with a blue cardboard box. She plans to sift through the things Beth left behind and find clues to explain why Beth changed. There are ballet slippers, a broken heart pendant, black rubber-band bracelets, and an address. Jenny uses t...more
The Anatomy of Wings is one of my favorite books. It is really disheartening to see so many people rating this a 2/5. However, I understand why they may do so. The Anatomy of Wings takes place in Queensland, Australia, and is told from the perspective of a ten-year old girl who has just lost her sister in an unexpected "accident" (suicide). She is left in the dark, and looks into her sister's past for the events that eventually led her to her demise.

The character's are the OPPOSITE of flat. Thi...more
Jenny was enamored with her older sister, Beth. Beth had grace, charm and beauty, and made everything appear effortless. In this novel, Jenny recounts their adolescence in a small, Australian mining town. Their neighbors and family watch Beth self-destruct, as she morphs from an innocent young girl into a mischievous delinquent. Spiraling out of control, Beth is earning an unfavorable reputation around town, and her parents are out of ideas on how to tame their wild daughter.

Beth dies from an ac...more
Ten year old Jennifer, and everyone else who lives in their small, mining town, are trying to get to terms with the sudden death of her older sister, Beth. Only, Jennifer and her best friend think they know how to work it out – they’ll use a seemingly random collection of items to investigate what happened in the lead up to the tragic event. Only when they work it out, will Jennifer find her singing voice again.

What unfolds is a forward and backward and around the corner look at Jennifer, Beth,...more
Melissa (i swim for oceans)
The Anatomy of Wings is the story of ten-year-old Jennifer Day, who has no idea why her perfect sister, Beth is suddenly gone. Though young and still innocent, she wants answers, and she wants to understand how the sister she knew as the epitome of beauty and all things girly, had turned into someone she hardly even knew. Starting with the contents of a small cardboard box, Jenny starts to unravel the mystery surrounding the loss of her sister and learns to accept the reality of it.

I picked up T...more
Set in a small Australian town during the 1980s, The Anatomy of Wings is narrated by Jennifer Day - an eleven year old schoolgirl.
Jennifer's older sister Beth has died leaving a gaping hole in the family - a family that started out quite odd and dysfunctional and seem to grow stranger and stranger as they cope with their grief.

During the story, Jennifer tries to piece together what happened to Beth during her last few months. Beth, the beautiful, clever girl who fell one day and banged her hea...more
There are some things Foxlee does very well. Some of her writing is very beautiful, almost ethereal. She set up her mining town very well. I could feel and smell and see it. And her characters were very well defined too. I loved the mom's warnings, especially about cemeteries full of kids who died from running with scissors. I related most to her, the heartache and frustration of a wayward child and what you'd do if you saw your child down spiraling. I thought the neighbors were interesting. And...more
Rebecca Honeycutt
Read this for Mock Printz book club. The 3 stars are because I have no argument with Foxlee's style--her writing is lovely and wistful. But this book was so deeply sad and slow-moving, it was a struggle to keep reading. It's a matter of personal taste, not a comment on literary quality, but I just can't stomach contemplative, depressing YA problem novels. And this one was mighty depressing.
It's the story of Jennifer, who loses her singing voice after the death of her teenage sister Beth. Jenny...more
I was gonna give it 3, but talked myself down to 2 as i started writing the review.

Jenny's older sister Beth collapses by the lake one day. After that, Beth changes - and not in a good way. She begins to glow (not sparkle!) and she becomes a wild child. At 14 she is doing everything that no parent wants their 14 year old doing: drinking, smoking, sneaking out, sleeping around... Jenny follows her sister around but never stops her or tattles. There's another sister, too. And some cousins. And a b...more
Anne Broyles
Although I found 98% of this novel depressing, I did appreciate a younger sister's perspective on her adored older teenage sister's implosion, free fall and suicide. As Jenny watches Beth enter into a sordid adolescence unprotected and unsupported by the adults in her world, she makes comments like:
"[Beth:] grew taller and thinner. She shed her childhood like a skin.
She could not be contained."
That younger, naive perspective was intriguing, but I also wished I knew what was going on in Beth's he...more
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Karen Foxlee is an Australian author who lives and writes in Queensland. Her young adult novels The Anatomy of Wings (UQP/Knopf/Atlantic) and The Midnight Dress (Knopf/UQP/Hot Key Books) have been published internationally to much acclaim. The Anatomy of Wings won the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book 2008 (South Asia/Pacific), the Dobbie Award 2008, and a Parent’s Choice Gold Award in th...more
More about Karen Foxlee...
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy The Midnight Dress Meeting Morrie / Clancy of the Undertow (RAF Volume 5: Issue 1)

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“If we knew everything would change we would have turned back but we didn't know. Thats how things happen. Especially sunny days hide dark moments in their pockets.” 18 likes
“After the kiss some of it still sparkled in the air around her.” 15 likes
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