Every once in a while, a book reminds me that literature is more than plot and character, sentences and words. Some are raw emotion packed between two covers and a spine. Wingshooters is this kind of book.
Nine-year-old Michelle LeBeau, product of a tempestuous marriage between a Japanese woman and American man, is left in her grandparents’ care in the all-white town of Deerhorn. Things aren’t easy for a biracial child in 1974, but Charlie, Michelle’s beloved grandfather, looks past his own deep-seated racism when it comes to his non-white granddaughter. Charlie teaches her to fight, to hunt, and to not let anyone exclude her. But when a new clinic opens in Deerhorn, it ushers in change to the conservative town. The Garretts, a young black couple, move in: she to nurse at the clinic, he to teach at the elementary school. Deerhorn is offended by their education and professionalism as much as by the color of their skin. Michelle is drawn to the resilient couple, yet frightened by what that association may bring, especially after Mr. Garrett levels a controversial accusation against a respected town leader.
Revoyr absolutely made the right choice in telling this story from the point-of-view of a young Japanese-American girl. On the fringes enough to empathize, but not old enough to really understand, she gives the reader room to view the story through more experienced eyes. The book is at once compelling and disturbing, haunting and terrifying. It calls to question what we are willing to overlook for those we love. Charlie is able to ignore Michelle’s “different” half, but she can’t ignore the fact that her grandfather sees her only as half of who she is. Wingshooters will stay with you long after the last page. Unreservedly recommended to read and pass on.