Scars Like Wings

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

Scars Like Wings is the story of a teenage burn survivor. This is a novel of grieving and healing and finding your new normal - even if that new normal takes you kicking and screaming. The main character is sarcastic and angry and I loved her. The author does a great job or representing humans as being flawed and not always reacting in a desirable manner. 
This is a perfect read for teenagers.
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You may want to have a tissue handy. This book is thought provoking and heartfelt. Ava is the only survivor of a house fire. Her parents and cousin are dead and she has burns over 60% of her body. She has lost her parents , her best friend and her face. She is living with her aunt and uncle. They lost their daughter in the fire. She is struggling to return to her old life and she has left everyone from
Her past life. Her aunt forces her to return to school in order to return to some sort of “normalcy”.  She also has to attend a support group for other burn survivors. She meets a friend a the support group and learn to navigate their way they high school. They will
Face more hurdles but they also become
Stronger together. 
This book made me laugh, cry and cheer for Ava and her friends. I will be recommending it to everyone.
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I finished Scars Like Wings last night and it was truly beautiful. Everything about it was beautiful, so beautiful that I cried near the ending. This novel opened my eyes to so many different things and made me feel so much. I would highly recommend this book to any and everyone.
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Sometimes it takes the right person at the right time to get us to finally see who we are. Sometimes that same said person may not show up at the right time, but what seems like the extremely most wrong time, and yet they are the one's that make us reach for all that we can or wish to be. That motivation, that outside driving force is a necessary evil for us to reach our potential, and when we're faced with additional obstacles outside the norm, it becomes something we not so much desire, but need all the same.

It was great to get to know Ava and her true self, not just the reflection she avoids thanks to circumstances beyond her control. It was empowering to see her rise above and endearing to see it happening with friends and then eventually on her own. Hey, I mean no man is an island, nor girl lost to the wolves, if she chooses not to be. 

All in all, an enjoyable read that not only reveals the true ties of friendship, but the ugliness of prejudice, and the beauty/potential that lies within us all.
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You know that feeling when you read a book and just… wow. I wish I had a word to express how I felt while reading Scars Like Wings, but it’s really, really hard to define. This was a powerful, very emotional, strong debut and honestly, a book that somehow hit me really hard, too.


Scars Like Wings tells the story of Ava, a teenager who has lost everything when her house caught fire. Her parents, her cousin and best friend, her home. Her face. Badly burned, but still alive, Ava has to face life after a traumatic event, after losing it all and somehow, has to face high school and normal teenagehood when over half of her body is covered in scars.

Scars Like Wings is a difficult story to read, at times, yet I also found it so powerful. I empathized with Ava right from the very beginning, feeling for her loss, feeling for her story, wanting right off the bat for her to be okay, to be better, to feel somehow, worthy. I loved her as a main character so much and found her growth absolutely stunning, from the very beginning of the story, from hiding behind her scars to slowly, but surely, finding this place where things are okay, or at least as okay as they can be, given the circumstances and tragedy in her life.


Something I adored in Scars Like Wings, was the strong cast of characters surrounding Ava, each with their own motives, their own flaws and issues, each of them feeling so real and standing off the page.

Most of it all, I loved that Scars Like Wings had such a big emphasis on friendship. Ava finds in Piper, a new friend and survivor as well, confidence and strength and, somehow, both of them balanced each other out perfectly, creating a real, complex friendship I loved seeing grow in the story. Asad was another really nice addition to the story, this quirky, fun, theater-geek friend that somehow was always compassionate and just wonderful. The friendships and interactions between them all were heartwarming and lovely.

When it comes to family, Ava is surrounded by her aunt and uncle, who both happened to have lost their daughter (Ava’s cousin) and sister (Ava’s mom), in the house fire that left Ava scarred. I loved how their relationship wasn’t all black and white, I loved seeing how they all struggled, getting used to this new normal, this new life, while dealing with a loss as big and as devastating as this one.


Scars Like Wings was overall, such a beautiful, highly emotional read. I felt chocked up while reading more than once and just wanted to cry. I felt emotional and wanted for Ava to be okay more than once, but that was the beauty of this story, too: it showed that it’s okay not to be okay, too. If you’re looking for a story like that, one that is powerful and that you will think long, long after reading, I’ll definitely recommend this one.

Final rating: 4,5 drops!

    A million thanks to Penguin Random House Internatinal & NetGalley for sending me an e-ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.

    Trigger warnings: bullying, homophobia, ableism, depression, loss of parents, loss of a loved one, suicide attempt, grief.
    Diversity: Multiple characters and the main character (Ava) are covered in burns and scars, another main character is in a wheelchair (Piper), another main character is Pakistani (Asad).
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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Scars Like Wings was a very breathtaking and emotional read. I was hooked from the very first page! The writing is incredible, and the author really endears you to her characters. I flew through the pages, because I needed to know what happened with Ava, Piper, and Asad. They were all very compelling characters, and I really enjoyed getting to know them and their individual personalities. I would have liked to know more about Asad specifically, but Ava and Piper were clearly the focus (this wasn't a bad thing, but I felt like Asad had more story to tell). 

In addition to the wonderful friendships, there's a dash of mystery peppered in throughout the story. We slowly see how Ava and Piper's accidents happened, which added wonderfully complex layers to the story. Asad was there for comedic relief, and I thought he was absolutely adorable! His Broadway references and puns were subtle but always on the nose. Piper's brand of humor was a little darker, but no less appreciated. I liked that she embraced herself in front of Ava, and hate that she was secretly struggling with her own issues.

Kenzie's mean girl persona was the only aspect of this book that I had trouble believing. She took a lot of anger and frustration out on Ava, and her actions were unbelievably cruel. I know teenagers aren't the best at communicating their feelings, but making fun of someone for their appearance, and also trying to remove them from an activity because you dislike something about them, was going too far. The author tried to shed a more forgiving light on her at the end, but I had no sympathy for the girl that repeatedly made Ava feel bad about herself and what she had to offer. 

I thought the journal entries were a clever addition the story, since it allowed us to see a different side of Ava, and offered a very honest perspective. She's someone you want to root for, and I really liked seeing her take steps to reclaim her life, despite how destroyed she felt inside and out. 

I cannot praise Scars Like Wings enough! It was a story that grabbed my heartstrings from the very first page, and I know it's a story I'm going to think about for a long, long time.

Originally posted at Do You Dog-ear? on October 29, 2019.
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This book hits all the buttons; Family, Loss, Love, Friendship and what really makes you who you are. This book takes a deep dive into guilt and self-blame. The author also explores in-depth the difference between the walls we see people building around us and those we actually have erected ourselves. I think this is an amazing book for anyone 13 and older. It is a bit hard to handle sometimes. So if you are overly sensitive this may not be the book for you. Even though categorized as YA I got so much out of this (I am currently 30). This book was so relatable even while the main character is going through something so incredibly hard, that at first glance you think it wouldn’t be. I can’t tell you how many times this book brought me to tears. Not just a little one rolling down my cheek but full on sobs. This response I have found makes it extremely hard to finish reading.

This book takes a deep dive into a young girls struggle with scars, physical and mental. High school is hard enough without missing 60% of your skin and living with the guilt of being the only one in your family to live a horrible accident. On top of all of this, having to live in a shrine of a bedroom that belonged to your cousin who died in the same fire that scared her.

I would love to read more by this author as she really has a way of capturing humanity and giving it back to her readers in such an easy to grasp way. She really knows how to make her readers feel.

Thank you NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review
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Delacorte Press and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Scars Like Wings. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

Ava Lee survives a terrible tragedy, but it is what happens after that has the power to transform her. Will she let the loss of her loved ones define her, or will Ava finally learn how to live with her new normal?

It is not often that a YA book is so moving that I have to take a moment's pause. Life is less than perfect for Ava, but she learns to find the beauty within herself and the strength to move forward, despite difficult circumstances. There is a big lesson to learn here, that not everyone's scars are on the outside. Sometimes, the heart and the head hurt.

Scars Like Wings is a well written story about second chances and about finding inner strength after a tragedy. This transformative novel is one that I would recommend that all, YA or not, find the time to read. I look forward to reading more by author Erin Stewart in the future.
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Ava lost everything when her house caught fire...her family and her physical appearance as she knew it. Now her aunt and uncle want her to go back to high school like everything is normal. 
Ava’s journey had me cringing and cheering and crying. Her poems were as beautiful as the person she realizes she is. 
Scars Like Wings by @erin_n_stewart is one of those books that felt so real and you just can’t imagine going through something like that. 
This book left scars on my heart in all the best ways.
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The author does a great job of tackling a difficult situation and making the MC's growth moving and realistic. I enjoyed the novel a lot and highly recommend.
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This is such an important book as it contains a variety of topics that I wish was more represented in society. The pacing of the book was also perfect.
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This book has to be one of the best books that I have read this year about a young girl overcoming all the heartbreaks that lead her to that one heck of a ending!!

Ava Lee is one lucky girl in the sense that she is the sole survivor of a house fire that took the life of her parents and cousin but she is left with the horror of surviving a fire. Only when her Aunt and Uncle suggest to Ava that maybe it's time to get back to normal in a sense with her going to school once again but Ava doesn't like that idea since she knows she will be called the Burned Girl. As Ava meets a fellow fire survivor named Piper that she slowly starts coming out of the shell that she built around her but not all is what it seems with Piper.

It takes a school play for everything to slowly unravel with a former friend of Piper's not playing very nice. As the secrets unravel with a heartbreaking twist to the story that will always have you in tears for what these two girls have to endure, that ending will put a huge on your face for what is to come in their future!!

I do want to warn y'all on this story, it will rip your heart apart for the story while also having the real truth of what a burn survivor goes through, even with all the gross parts. So be warned that it's not all sugar and spice in this story. Also, this story hits home for me with a family member getting in fire around the time that I started this book. Luckily, my family member didn't get badly burned like Ava but I could only imagine what if.

Like I said, this book will rip your heart out for all the loss that Ava had to endure but to see her come out of her shell by the ending was just icing on the cake! I will admit that I was mad at Piper for the little game she played with Ava but at the same time, I could see why she did it as well. Overall, this Author took the time to write a fantastic story that will stay with me awhile!

Thank You to Erin Stewart for this fantastic 5 Star debut novel that made me a fan of yours from this day forward!!

I voluntarily reviewed this book from the Publisher & NetGalley!
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I love a good transformation story. I love how this book addressed grief and trauma. I felt it did such a great job at bringing up these topics in a very respectful way. The overall theme of this book was learning to accept others' differences. 

I felt the conflict between characters seemed to get resolved quickly which made the book a tad unrealistic. 

I loved the transformation of Ava when she meets Piper, another burn victim. Even though the tense moments seemed to be instantly resolved, the characters felt very real to me. Their emotions felt very real. There were so many heartwarming and heartbreaking moments through this book. 

I really loved how in the end Ava realizes that the choice to be happy is hers alone and it is up to her to create it. She can’t wallow in the life she has been handed and she needs to learn to be happy and find a new purpose. 

Every single character had scars. Every single one, even if they weren’t visible they were there and that is not unlike real life. We all carry our battle wounds, but it is up to us on how we choose to use them. 

Like Ava, I handle my depression and grief through self deprecation and that made her a very relatable character for me.  I felt the friendships were very genuine and I liked Piper even though she came off a bit selfish at times. She, too, was learning to live this new life she was handed and that can sometimes be a trigger to treat others poorly (even if it is a bad one). 

Thank you so much to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for allowing me to review this title.
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This is such a realistic story that I had no problem picturing everything happening and understanding what the characters were feeling. As someone who enjoyed the book Wonder but wished it had been about a more mature protagonist, this was pretty perfect for me and a wonderful reading experience. The poems included had a huge impact on me because I strongly connected with the heroine whose heart was shattered into a million pieces when her parents and best friend died in a fire that she was the only one to survive. Everyone has scares but some scars, like Ava’s, are impossible to miss. This, of course, affects the way she sees herself and other people see her.

I was excited when Ava met Piper, her new loud and unapologetic friend, because she really needed someone to make her feel comfortable about who she is—make her realize that even if the new Ava looks very different, her looks do not mirror who she is on the inside. She should care less about what people think of her and more about letting herself be happy even if she believes she doesn’t deserve it. Ava and Piper’s interactions are incredible. I felt their connection deeply and was happy to see how much Piper emboldened Ava and encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone. Piper is also one of the most intriguing protagonists of this story because her sense of self is worth analyzing.
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Loved this first novel by Erin Stewart.  I can’t wait to recommend it to both YA’s and adults.  The amount of detail she covered on burn survivors was amazing.  Her characters were so believable, I look forward to more novels from this author.
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Ava has burns over most of her body after a house fire which took her parents died along with her cousin who was spending the night.  After numerous surgeries, Ava is healing, but can hardly stand to look at herself in the mirror.  She's scarred all over her body and face, she lost an ear, and her big toe has replaced a thumb.  When her aunt and uncle convince her to go back to school, she just knows it's going to end badly.  But surprisingly, she makes friends.  Piper has also been in an accident which has not only left her scarred but in a wheelchair, and without her friends.  She's angry because she feels they don't want her in their lives anymore. But she's a pip, with a great outlook on life.  So the two of them become best friends and support one another through all the bullying and low times.  Piper encourages Ava to try out for the school play.  And even though she's scarred and scary looking, they cast her.  When Piper has her lowest point ever and pushes Ava and everyone else away, Ava knows she has to be the best friend she can be to help her through her pain.  It's a story about perseverance and survival, and friendship, and accepting people for what they are.
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“She conquered her demons and wore her scars like wings.”

Scars Like Wings is the book about surviving that everyone needs. I didn’t even know I needed it, until I was sobbing my way to the end. It’s such a perfect, beautiful, poignant story that will resonate on so many levels with so many readers.

First, let’s talk about Ava. She survived the fire that took her parents and her cousin. When she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t recognize the face that stares back. Burns cover 60% of her body and that’s only the scars that are visible. But Ava doesn’t want to be the burned girl, another thing she lost in the fire.

Her aunt Cora is her one-woman pep squad, ensuring that Ava has all the love and support she needs to recover. Even though her daughter died as well, Cora is determined to always be there for Ava. No matter what. Unfortunately for Ava, that means reintegrating back into public high school.

The second she walks down the halls, seeing the stares and hearing the whispers, Ava knows even trying to go back to school was a massive mistake. Until she meets Piper.

“And for the first time in a long time, I’m not facing the nightmare alone.”

Both girls have their scars, both internal and external, But while Ava tries to hide, to blend into the background of the walls and disappear, Piper refuses to be invisible. She wears hot pink everything and doesn’t let anyone make her feel small. Her attitude feels overwhelming to Ava, but slowly, surely, Piper begins to help Ava find her new normal.

Are you tearing up yet? Because, hello, gut-wrenching girls finding themselves delicious plot line. Also, can I rave for a moment on the amazing friendship between Piper and Ava?! Gah! I LOVE THESE TWO!!!

Actually, I have to say, all the friendships in this book are so awesome I want to hug them all. Even the mean girls plot line is unexpectedly realistic and satisfying. The depth of emotion on every page is dynamic and gripping and so, so, so real.

Scars Like Wings is the perfect book for any teen struggling with any inner demons. There are varying levels in every character, offering the opportunity for conversations and deeper examination for readers. It will hit you right in the feels, regardless of what brought you to open the cover. A gorgeous story that I will not forget.

Thank you Rockstar Book Tours and Delacorte Press for sending me a copy and including me on this tour.
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4.5 stars.

Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart is a YA contemporary about a young woman's "reintegration" into high school life after a house fire that killed her mother, father, and cousin and left her with burns over 60% of her body, including her face. The story is incredibly well-written, with a voice true to a teenager. Ava is present in many different emotional states with a sense fantastic accuracy. In places, the story feels like a more mature version of Wonder. Erin Stewart clearly did her due diligence in researching this topic as her portrayal of the disability and its social ramifications reads as if it were a biography.

I inhaled this book. I read it over the course of two days and was impatiently awaiting the time when I could return to it. I stayed up late just to complete the last few pages. I didn't want to put it down.
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“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.
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I didn't realize how emotional this book was going to be. As a reader, the synopsis gives you an idea, but reading it brings you to all the hurt, growth, love and pain, the reality of the world created, and where it can lead all persons involved. And, getting to know Ava is no easy feat, especially when she speaks so ill about herself. But, when you see what she's dealing with, having to start school all over again, and the guilt felt, it's a character you come to love, understand, and appreciate.

"Why am I the lucky one because I survived? Mom, Dad, and my cousin Sara are probably dancing through a celestial meadow somewhere or happily reincarnated as monkeys in India while I face an endless loop of surgeries and doctors and stares from strangers. But I can't compete with tombstones. Death trumps suffering every time."

Then the characters that enter this novel, they're an even bigger reason to pick this up and give it a go. From a loving aunt and uncle who put their hurt aside to raise the sole survivor, to another survivor whom we all wish we could be as strong as, to an unexpected friend that sees past the flaws above the surface. It doesn't lack in that aspect, which is something I always look forward to finding in a novel like this.

"I lie back on my bed and listen to Piper's "Phoenix in a Flame" anthem. While the girl sings about wings, I pick up the burn-camp brochure next to me. On the cover, a man with a hole for an ear like mine carries a laughing little boy. Scars blur both their faces under the words, 'Nothing heals people like other people.' The pink phoenix symbol soars above the words." 

It was a novel I fell more for as I read on, even more so with the Wizard of Oz references (not to be confused with Wicked), the humor that Piper brought to this, that awesome pink wig that I wish I had the guts to rock, and all the genuine emotions that were brought with every single page that followed. Yes, in many parts it was hard to read, to go through the motions with Ava, but in the end it's a book I wouldn't have wanted to go without reading.

***I received this copy from Delacorte via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.***
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