‘I should not be on top of the school wall. I should be doing my homework. Mrs Hubert, my maths teacher has given me different homework from the rest of the class. They have to complete 10 equations. I have to make 2 friends.’
‘I will point out to Mrs Hubert that making friends with Finn should give me a lot of merit marks, as he used to hate me. I would like to win The Headmaster’s Cup For Excellence for the 2nd year running, for getting the most merit marks in the whole school.’
‘If Finn Maison shouts jump you jump or you are dead.’
Twelve-year-old Willem has Aspergers Syndrome and two main aims in life: to fly and to make at least two friends of his own age. But all the other boys from the Beckham Estate do is make him jump off things. First his desk – and now the wall. As his toes teeter on the edge, Sasha Bradley gives him a tiny little wink. Might she become his friend?
Bullied by Finn and his gang the Beckham Estate Boyz, Willem has no choice but to jump. As he flies through the air he flaps his arms, wishing he could fly and escape into the clouds.
Instead he comes crashing down and breaks his ankle. Sasha, angry with herself for not stopping Finn and his Boyz, is determined to put things right. And soon, while the gangs riot on their estate, Willem and Sasha form an unlikely friendship. Because they share a secret. Sasha longs to fly too.
And when Magic Man Archie arrives with stories of war-flying spitfires, he will change the lives of the kids on the Beckham Estate for ever. And perhaps find a way for Willem and Sasha to fly …
Touching on themes such as friendship and bullying, this is a charming tale about overcoming obstacles and finding friendship in unlikely places.
What I Thought
To be honest I was worried how this book would make me feel. Autism is obviously a subject very close to me heart and I was worried if it would stir up some of the fears that I have for Ethan and his future. I found that it did the complete opposite, this book gave me hope and I also learnt a few things along the way.
Willem has Aspergers Syndrome and making friends for him would be very challenging. When he is set this task for homework I’m sure he would much rather be doing something else. The fact that circumstances make his friend choices the boy who has bullied him for years, Finn, and his girl, Sasha. Willem really has set himself a task.
There are some lovely morals to learn from this book highlighted by the London riots, and I even learnt some facts about World War Two that I didn’t know. All of the subjects covered in this book enhanced the story and made you fall in love with the characters more and more.
I of course wanted to know how Willem and Aspergers Syndrome would be portrayed. Raising Autism awareness is very important for our children and I’m very happy how this book did this.
Jane Elson wrote the book from both the perspective of Willem and Sasha. I found this very easy to follow and it is also helped by the fonts used in the book. Each character uses a different font, a very subtle but noticeable difference.
Willem’s thoughts are very black and white and he explains his thinking in colours about friendships. How different phrases people say are taken literally, and how different sounds and noises can overwhelm him. The book also touched on Willem’s stims which he used to help calm him.
I really enjoyed reading How to Fly with Broken Wings and I feel it would be enjoyed by children which is it’s intended audience. The underlying morals in this story are very important and are ones that I want my own children to have.