In her personal mythology she is a bird, but December begins to trust some of the humans around her.
Narrator December Lee Morgan is almost 12, solitary and a survivor, when she arrives at her latest foster home. The scars on her back—the result of an injury inflicted years ago by her mother, never fully detailed—become the place where December believes her wings will emerge when they are ready. Her new foster parent is a single woman, Eleanor, who builds houses and volunteers at a wildlife rehabilitation center. December carries two books with her everywhere: The Complete Guide to Birds, Volume One, and Bird Girl: An Extraordinary Tale. The first she has nearly memorized, and the second is her biography, a reminder to herself that she is really a bird and that her wings will open when she finds and leaps from the perfect flight tree. But Eleanor offers December something new: a respectful regard, perhaps from her understanding of wild animals. And December’s new schoolmate Cheryllyn is supportive and endlessly kind though herself bullied by girls who refuse to use her chosen name and refer to her by her former pronouns. December and Eleanor present white, and Cheryllyn, has skin “the color of paperbark maple.” Bird imagery and facts provide a subtle and graceful constant, and Stark-McGinnis’ prose is carefully crafted, direct, and convincing.
Mostly perceptive and appealingly hopeful. (Fiction. 9-13)