The Blue Wings, a realistic-fiction novel by Jef Aerts, centers around a boy named Josh and his older brother Jadran. Jadran has a cognitive condition that presents itself in the form of obsessive thoughts and outbursts, which are sometimes violent, so his mom relies on Josh to take care of him. At Jadran’s school, The Space, his teachers tell him that he can do anything he sets his mind to, so when he and Josh find an injured crane that had been left behind by its family, Jadran is determined to teach it to fly and get back home to its family at any cost. As you follow the story, you get to see Josh’s and Jadran’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the close bond between them.
Josh and Jadran share a very interesting relationship, because although Josh is Jadran’s little brother, younger than Jadran by five years, he still treats Jadran like his little brother, and Jadran treats Josh like an older brother. Josh keeps Jadran out of trouble, he humors Jadran and his sometimes irrational ideas, and in general, makes sure Jadran has the perfect balance between fun and safety in his life. Josh’s mom puts it perfectly when she says “ ‘You’re his guardian angel’, ” to Josh.
Josh will go extremely far to ensure Jadran’s happiness. Although he doesn’t want to, he finds bugs to feed the crane, he makes sure the crane’s injured wing is healing properly, and he helps Jadran take care of the crane. When Jadran wants to teach the crane how to fly, Josh helps him, even once it becomes risky. And when Jadran and Josh face a daunting challenge, Josh agrees to help Jadran carry out his spur-of-the-moment, vague plan, although it suddenly seems impossible to accomplish.
Josh loves his brother, but he also often feels exasperated and even nervous around Jadran. At one point, Josh thinks to himself, “ ‘Jadran can’t explode. Not here, not three stories above the ground.’ ” He is scared that Jadran will get angry and he’ll throw a fit, which would be very dangerous that high up.
I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. The plot is unique and intriguing, complete with compelling characters that are vividly brought to life for a one-of-a-kind moving read. Through Josh’s eyes, Jef Aerts immerses you in a tale of brotherhood, friendship, and family you will never forget. Fans of Wonder and A Mango-Shaped Space will relish The Blue Wings.