This Book Was... Not It | Review: All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil

5:00 AM

Not me taking almost a year to review something. Again. As always? Anyways, here's Wonderwall.

About 

Michelle Ruiz Keil’s YA fantasy debut about love, found family, and healing is an ode to post-punk San Francisco through the eyes of a Mexican-American girl.

Seventeen-year-old Xochi is alone in San Francisco, running from her painful past: the mother who abandoned her, the man who betrayed her. Then one day, she meets Pallas, a precocious twelve-year-old who lives with her rock-star family in one of the city’s storybook Victorians. Xochi accepts a position as Pallas’s live-in governess and quickly finds her place in their household, which is relaxed and happy despite the band's larger-than-life fame.

But on the night of the Vernal Equinox, as a concert afterparty rages in the house below, Xochi and Pallas accidentally summon a pair of ancient creatures devoted to avenging the wrongs of Xochi’s adolescence. She would do anything to preserve her new life, but with the creatures determined to exact vengeance on those who’ve hurt her, no one is safe—not the family she’s chosen, nor the one she left behind.
 


All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Did it take me half a year to actually get around to reviewing this one? Yep! I know, its been a long time coming. Months have passed and I couldn't quite sort out the many things I wanted to say about why I didn't like All of Us with Wings. It should be noted that my review will not be anything new when it comes to this novel and the controversy it has stirred up in the literary communities.

For some infinitely better reviews on the whys and the hows of this novel not working for me, I definitely recommend you check out: this review or this one.

The easy route for my thoughts on All of Us with Wings would be to say that this novel is simply not for me. It tackles some serious content in ways that I don't necessarily agree with. It tackles other things fairly well. It is also classified as YA, when it doesn't strike me as such but that's another bag entirely. Although I thought that Michelle Ruiz Keil's writing is fantastic and blunt, and there's an importance to this story, there was an edge to this story that felt a bit off to me.

And for obvious reasons I couldn't quite get past the more problematic elements of this story. In particular, the age gap between a minor and a grown man. (The main relationship is between a 28 year old man and a 17 year old girl. Yikes.)

While the ground in which Ruiz Keil treads upon in All of Us with Wings isn't uncommon in life, or in fiction, the manner in which the relationship is developed and displayed is less than desirable. Not to mention creepily romanticized.

I'm definitely here for accurate and true-to-life plotlines as long as they are done well and at the end of the day, this novel rubbed me the wrong way by cloaking a predatory relationship in a way that was meant to be 'romantic'--similarly to the ways in which the television adaptation for Pretty Little Liars rubbed me the wrong way with the relationship between a teenager and an adult teacher. The stories at hand aren't wholly similar or comparable (obviously All of Us with Wings is more serious in terms of life) but the outcome is still the same: we shouldn't be rooting for a relationship between an underage girl and an adult.

Seriously, it's creepy. It makes no difference that someone is 'mature' for their age (ugh) or just one year shy of legally being an adult. It's still... not it.

Ultimately, there were a lot of things that were great about All of Us with Wings that are worth noting. The writing in particular. It's a testament to Ruiz Keil's talents that I even finished this novel. Truly. But, there were a lot of things that weren't great. Sadly, for me, it was defined by its not-so-great qualities. As always, I recommend reading a book for yourself and proceeding with caution--but All of Us with Wings isn't necessarily something I'll be recommended.
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