Dirty Wings by Sarah McCarry
Book #2 in All Our Pretty Songs
Genre: Young Adult Magical Realism
Publication Date: July 15th 2014
ARC Provided by St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley
Christal’s Review – 4 Skulls – B+
Dirty Wings answered questions from All Our Pretty Songs that I didn’t even know I had! I mean that in a good way; it addressed situations and issues that I didn’t realize were so meaningful in the first book, giving it much deeper layers. Though it seemed less fantastical than the debut, Dirty Wings was definitely an important chapter in the overall story and helped ground two characters that were more secondary in the previous book. Though this book could be read as a standalone, the experience will be much richer if you read both. This prequel novel was so good that it made me dig out the previous book so I could give it another once over.
Cass and Maia were the mothers of the main characters in All Our Pretty Songs and we learned a little about them and their strained friendship, but not much about their history. Dirty Wings is their story and the events here lay the groundwork for the previous book. Maia was a sheltered piano prodigy — adopted and provided for but never certain if she was actually loved. Cass was a runaway, scraping by on the streets. You wouldn’t think they had anything in common, but a decision to steal away one summer created a lifetime friendship. As Maia ran from her parents, their expectations, and her music, Cass was just content to be with her. They have a pretty idyllic summer, going from concert-to-concert, beach-to-beach, and popping pill after pill. They are happy and carefree and secure in their friendship until Jason appears and draws Maia away. Now Cass is on the outside looking in and she can’t help feeling jealous. One bad choice could cause her to lose everything that she loves…
I loved following the developing friendship and love between Maia and Cass. Though they were from completely different worlds, they were both searching for somewhere to fit, someone to love them. Dirty Wings tells the story of their burgeoning friendship, but it also skips ahead to the end of the story and shows us why Maia and Cass’ relationship ends up combusting.
Maia has never had the opportunity to live her own life. She’s always spent her time fulfilling someone else’s ideals. Cass allows her to be herself and to explore the edges of her comfort without judgement. Cass grounds her and saves Maia from her personal darkness. Cass has toughened herself to avoid pain and thinks her shell makes her bulletproof, but Maia’s friendship shows her she is still vulnerable. Maia’s love gives her self-worth and Cass’ devotion to Maia gives her something good in her life.
When Jason enters the picture in Dirty Wings, he upsets the beautiful balance Maia and Cass have created. He claims Maia’s love for his own and Maia is swept away in the moment. Once the shine begins to dim, you can see that Maia never truly abandoned Cass but their relationship has become strained. Cass is still the most important person in her life, even Jason sees that and is threatened by it, but Cass feels like she has to let Maia go. Maia has grown and blossomed into her own person and, even though she would never admit it, Cass has been changed by Maia’s love. They are moving forward together but experiencing it in different ways and that scares Cass into making some not so great decisions.
Dirty Wings has the same gorgeous, lush prose as All Our Pretty Songs, but the mystical elements are a little more tame here. We are introduced to the entity we will come to know as Minos, but here he regulates himself mostly to Maia and Cass’ dreams. Though he does materialize more fully toward the end of the book, we know that it is only possible because of the choices Cass made throughout the story. Cass was the pivot point for everything that happened and will happen in this fascinating and engrossing world.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley for providing an ARC copy of this book!
1. All Our Pretty Songs
2. Dirty Wings
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