Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Anatomy of Wings” as Want to Read:
The Anatomy of Wings
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Anatomy of Wings

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  875 Ratings  ·  147 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
ebook, 185 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published September 3rd 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Anatomy of Wings, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Anatomy of Wings

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
May 15, 2010 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
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
Jean Leong
Feb 16, 2013 Jean Leong rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Anindita Satpathi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 01, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, c21st
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
Oct 25, 2010 Sheralyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not in the least impressed. The story is confusing and jumps in too many tangents; the purpose of which I just do not have the desire to try to understand. The language is terrible, 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 tim ...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.
Jun 28, 2011 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Maree Kimberley
Oct 25, 2013 Maree Kimberley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aww2013
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
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
"Kruchość skrzydeł" to świetna powieść poruszająca przede wszystkim temat wczesnego dorastania, chęci życia na własnych warunkach ale również przedstawiająca obraz psychologiczny rodziny, w której członkowie żyją obok siebie ale nie ze sobą. Główną narratorką powieści jest dziesięcioletnia Jennifer - niezwykle mądra i dojrzała jak na swój wiek dziewczynka. Dzięki niej poznajemy kilka miesięcy z życia jej zmarłej siostry - nastoletniej Beth. Oczami Jennifer obserwujemy trudne i dość wczesne wkrac ...more
Mar 15, 2017 KayCee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say I really enjoyed reading this novel. I found the story too patchy and the characters were just a little hard to keep up with. It did capture the essence of a mining town and as a former resident in one of these places, it brought a lot of memories back on the type of living conditions that were there. I would have liked more about the people who live in theses places other than the sketches that were provided. The main protagonist left me unfinished.
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
Feb 03, 2009 Yan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
“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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 10, 2012 Alee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Morgan H
Jan 09, 2014 Morgan H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 07, 2009 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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,
Dec 20, 2011 Nicci rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 25, 2009 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 02, 2010 S rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lorena del Llano
Sep 02, 2009 Lorena del Llano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Loretta Farnsworth
This book disappointed me. I wanted to love it—the author’s voice is whimsical and fun. But the story kept switching back and forth between when Beth is alive and when Beth is dead, and the switches are not communicated. I felt like it took me a page or two before I realized that the time had changed. I also felt frustrated that the book was not consistent in sticking with Jennifer’s perspective. Besides the confusing chapters that weren’t fully connected to the main storyline (except for a conf ...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
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
Sep 22, 2010 Kerri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Meet Grace (Our Australian Girl - Grace, #1)
  • Sophie Scott Goes South
  • Cold Justice (Detective Ella Marconi, #3)
  • Half A World Away
  • Shoes from Grandpa
  • New Guinea Moon
  • Love and Romanpunk (Twelve Planets, #2)
  • You Are Not Here
  • The Whole of My World
  • A Trifle Dead (Cafe La Femme, #1)
  • Kisses for Daddy
  • How To Make A Bird
  • Black Box
  • Walking Naked
  • Josephine Wants to Dance
  • Holier Than Thou
  • Secret Lives of Books (Twelve Planets book 10)
  • Becoming Kirrali Lewis
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...

Share This Book

“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.” 21 likes
“After the kiss some of it still sparkled in the air around her.” 15 likes
More quotes…