How To Fly With Broken Wings by Jane Elson

Spreading The Magic

How To Fly With Broken Wings by Jane Elson is a beautiful, contemporary children’s novel that is about friendship, remembrance and celebrating differences.

We meet twelve year old Willem who has autism. Jane Elson challenges us to realise that people with autism think differently and find navigating life hard. I worked as a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) in the local high school for many years. I worked with numerous pupils who had autism, and Jane Elson has perfectly captured Willem – his dislike of change and social situations, his need for a comfort object and his literal interpretations. Willem is also highly intelligent.

Willem has a desperate search for friends which means the bullies take advantage of him. He does, however, have a friend in Sasha who looks out for him and who understands Willem’s needs.

The book is written in the first person, alternating between the voices of Willem and Sasha. We become intimately acquainted with them both.

An estate in London is the setting, as it is for many of Jane Elson’s novels. As such, this is familiar to the reader. We ‘know’ about the rival gangs and we meet up with familiar faces. A kind soul spots an opportunity to make the estate a more pleasant place to live as he gives the youth, in both gangs, the opportunity to become better.

School is a minefield for Willem. He believes what the bullies tell him and is manipulated by them.

Willem’s teacher lets him down too.

The community, though divided at first, will be united by the love of a character with a huge heart.

This is my sixth, and final, book by Jane Elson. I have read everything she has written now – but I am greedy! Please, Jane Elson, write more, more, more because I want to read more, more, more by you.


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