Dirty Wings by Sarah McCarry

chirson's review

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At various points of reading I was torn between four stars (the depiction of the relationship between Maia and her father, the sumptous [to the point of ridiculousness] language of the novel), three stars (Cassandra & Maia) only to suddenly realise the book was over and my main reaction is: that nope nope nope octopus. There's a chance it was more of a disappointment because of the day I've had. But as I was looking at the ratings I just couldn't click "liked it" because by the end of it, I didn't.
SpoilerAlso: men ruin everything. Also: that baby (babies? it's been a while since book 1) will have one hell of a FAS. Also, possibly: don't give your gal pal pomegrantes, speed or cocaine, or whatever it was that White White White Man in Black represented.

And then there is that last sex scene which was all kinds of awful to read, and more than a little sad, and which read more rape-y to me than it was supposed to, probably. I guess there is only so much self-destruction I can read. And I hated Jason with my entire lesbian heart.

I guess I should have known this wouldn't be the book for me based on my track record of not enjoying books about bohemians. If Dionne Brand couldn't do it, I shouldn't have expected a different result here.

In retrospect, it makes me like All Our Pretty Songs less (:(), and I don't think I'll come back for the conclusion of the series, unfortunately. I guess I'm all burnt out on McCarry's antagonistic f/f/m dynamics (ymmv, lots of people seem to have loved it).

And now I need something fluffy to make myself feel less awful.

lindaunconventionalbookworms's review

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*I received a free ARC of Dirty Wings from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

Dirty Wings is one of the strangest books I have ever read. No real plot, not that much of a story, but there is a wonderful friendship between Cass and Maia.

This and all my other reviews are originally posted on my blog (un)Conventional Bookviews

liralen's review

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The word that comes to mind is saturated -- vibrant prose and complicated, messy characters. I loved [b:All Our Pretty Songs|16045120|All Our Pretty Songs (All Our Pretty Songs, #1)|Sarah McCarry||19158383] (another word that comes to mind: greedy -- as in, I gobbled this up greedily), and this is the story of the mothers of the characters of that they came to know each other and, in a sense, how they came to be.

Maia is an aspiring pianist, talented, driven, and isolated -- sometimes more pushed than driven. For all that she wants to succeed, and to give herself over to music, she hasn't found either herself or her place in music. Cass, meanwhile, lives on the streets; she is harder to define in part because she's not interested in being defined.

They wouldn't be an obvious match if this weren't YA fiction, but it works anyway. The journey they take is Maia's, mostly; she has more layers to shed and more to lose. But they both change, and make mistakes, and make defining choices. By the end of the book they're both different people, for better or for worse -- and there isn't a neat and tidy bow to tie everything up.

That's a very vague review, I know. I love the lushness of the writing and the knots of the characters. I complain about books becoming series when they'd work better as standalone stories, but this and All Our Pretty Songs do stand on their own, and...and I'm very much looking forward to the next book.

alexaamarok's review

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adventurous dark emotional reflective sad medium-paced


ewil6681's review

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dark emotional slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


stenaros's review

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I never could quite put my finger on what made me uncomfortable in this book. Both main characters were interesting, sympathetic and well written. The plot was solid, if nerve-wracking. I'm not sure, but maybe the woo-woo aspects didn't work for me?

Interestingly, my copy of the book included the first chapter of the continuation of the story and I responded quite well to the switch in narrators.

Also, I'm not reading this is a retelling of Persephone, which I did not pick up on at all.

readinggrrl's review

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This book is actually a prequel to All Our Pretty Songs. Dirty Wings is about the parents of Aurora and the narrator of the first book.

Maia is a gifted piano player who lives a sheltered life until she meets Cass, a street girl who teaches her how to speak her mind and steal what she needs to live. Switching back and forth between "then" and "now" McCarry takes you from when Cass and Maia first meet to after they have run away together.

It was difficult to wrap my brain around this sheltered young talented girl being Aurora's mother, the tripped out junkie from All Our Pretty Songs, but you start to see how she got to that place and why Cass knew she needed to protect her daughter and why she tried to protect Aurora.

The same skeleton man from book 1 haunts Maia and her musician boyfriend that haunted Aurora in All Our Pretty Songs, only this time Cass tries to save her friend instead of her daughter.

McCarry's descriptions are still poetic, haunting and beautiful and Renata Friedman's narration is hypnotizing. This book is a beautiful addition to this trilogy but I was left a little stumped by the ending. I realize that after reading the first book that we have an idea of how their lives turned out but this one just sort of ended leaving me a bit lost.

heykellyjensen's review

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This answered a lot of questions that I didn't know I had with All Our Pretty Songs and I mean that in a really good way.

Cass and Maia are incredible girls, rich and complex, and their friendship is so fascinating and dynamic and painful and REAL.

You can totally read this as a standalone, though it'll make you want to check out the first book (or revisit it). Excellent literary YA.

Full review here:

declaired's review

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well, this is one of the meaner things I've done to myself recently.

this book is perfect. at least 80% of that statement is because of how well-written the book is, how real the characters are, and how well it bounced off of the first book in terms of telling a prequel story while still being its own journey.

and 30% is how much I cried and overly related to Cass, who has a lot of feelings I am perfectly in tune with, and it means a lot for me to see that. I want to make everyone read this book because I want to talk about it, and at the same time I want no one to read this book because some of it feels like you could be reading my diary (only much better written)

this was not, perhaps, my greatest move on a "cheer up and take a mental health alone-time evening, ellen" but goddamn it was good.
2018 reread
I've tried to reread this book a couple of times since 2015, because it's perfect, but I'm usually stopped a bit because there is only so much self-examination that is healthy in the wake of two girls running away to California to find themselves/each other/other terrible things. I love Cass and Maia so much; I love how unashamedly complicated they are in what they mean to each other. I love the writing, the focus of the novel, which just echoes so true.

"I thought running away would fix it," Maia whispers.
"Running away doesn't fix anything," Cass says. "But it makes you harder to find."
"It's a release, but it's not the solution to any riddle. If she knew what she wanted, if she could put a name to it, would that set her free?"

erin_reads_boooks's review

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Not my cup of tea.