Book Review, Coming of Age, NetGalley, Scarred heroine, YA Fiction

Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart


Before, I was a million things. Now I’m only one. The Burned Girl.

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her.

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever.

But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.


I just finished two books back to back about burn survivors and though the circumstances were different, the strength and determination these young women have recovering from a tragic event is inspirational.  Sorry, Ava, it truly is. 🙂

My scar story goes like this: The ceiling collapsed before my dad pushed me out the window, so my face, scalp, arms, and upper back got the brunt of it. My legs are a mixed bag: knees and calves are burned, thighs are not, thanks to the shorts I was wearing, and my Ugg slippers saved my feet. My pajama top also kept the middle of me—stomach, boobs, lower back—relatively unscathed.

Ava has burns on 60% of her body and she just wants to disappear, but she makes a promise to her Aunt Cora that she will give it two weeks. Two weeks to attend a new school full of faces that will look at her in horror, pity, and curiosity. When the two weeks are up, she will come home and continue her homeschooling, hidden away in her cousin’s room, the cousin she lost in the fire with Ava’s parents.

Ava has been through an awful ordeal of loss, pain and suffering, but one can see her self-assurance grow as she starts to make friends with Piper, the no-holds-barred, fellow burn survivor and avid supporter, and Asad, lover of theater and music and defender of Ava’s reputation. When secrets come out and angry words are said, something frightening happens that changes how she sees her life.

My emotions ran high with this one which is proof of a great story. Ava’s family dynamic with Cora and Glenn are tough due to the circumstances that brought them together, but so heartwarming in their love for each other. The poetic snippets of Ava’s journal are also a nice touch in understanding how Ava is feeling.

Overall, an incredible coming-of-age journey into a young woman’s recovery and after a tragic fire. You will fall in love with Ava, Piper, Asad, Cora and Glenn. Recommend highly!

Thank you to Ms. Stewart and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book with no expectation of a positive review.


Scars Like Wings

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Erin StewartErin Stewart is the author of Scars Like Wings, her debut novel. Erin is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern and a BYU undergraduate who works as a freelance writer and editor, as well as a weekly columnist in Salt Lake City.

Erin lives in Utah with her husband and three children. She is represented by the amazing Brianne Johnson of Writers House.

Follow Erin on her website, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.