Review of How To Fly With Broken Wings by Jane Elson

Published: 5th March 2015
Publisher: Hodder Children
Pages: 304


Twelve-year-old Willem has Aspergers Syndrome and two main aims in life: to fly and to make at least two friends of his own age. But all the other boys from the Beckham Estate do is make him jump off things. First his desk – and now the wall. As his toes teeter on the edge, Sasha Bradley gives him a tiny little wink. Might she become his friend. Bullied by Finn and his gang the Beckham Estate Boyz, Willem has no choice but to jump. As he flies through the air he flaps his arms, wishing he could fly and escape into the clouds. Instead he comes crashing down and breaks his ankle. Sasha, angry with herself for not stopping Finn and his Boyz, is determined to put things right. And soon, while the gangs riot on their estate, Willem and Sasha form an unlikely friendship. Because they share a secret. Sasha longs to fly too. And when Magic Man Archie arrives with stories of war-flying spitfires, he will change the lives of the kids on the Beckham Estate for ever. And perhaps find a way for Willem and Sasha to fly…


Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for kindly sending me a review copy.

A young boy; Willem Edward Smith (aged 12) pretends he can fly and nobody knows, until he is forced by the school bully to jump off a wall. I thought the opening was really strong and shows how the victim as well as the bully feels in that type of situation. I read the book knowing nothing about the plot or that Willem has Aspergers Syndrome (fascination with intense interests).

“My dad will ban you from my life for the sixth time this year.”

I really liked that Jane began the first two opening chapters with very similar sentences. You must do what Finn says or you’re dead. It is clear from the beginning that Willem and Sasha have more in common than they think but for now, only Sasha knows it until she’s ready to talk. Throughout the duration of the plot, Jane made sure that time was written really well and I thought she did a brilliant job as very quickly, the narrative changes from a school to hospital to things getting out of hand.

“I do not think the riot people wanted to read books.”

I was interested to see how the plot would change as well as certain characters – would they remain the same or opt for a better outcome in life? It was ironic that the very first sentence appeared at the end, but not how you would expect it to and I really liked that. Jane’s writing style is unique and I think people will enjoy this book, especially over a weekend.

“Some things are more important than winning cups and maths tests.”

Twitter: @JJELSON35