Isla and her dad have a connection. Birds. Or Swans to be exact. Her and her dad wake early in the morning to watch the swans return to the nearby wetlands preserve, marking the start of winter. But this year is different. When Isla and her dad arrive they watch, helplessly, as the newly installed power lines - not marked well enough for the swans to see them - injure the birds as the fly down to land. Some plummet to the ground at their feet, blood and feathers everywhere. Some are able to veer out of the way to safety. But one bird catches Isla's eye. She seems disorientated and lost, struggling to keep up with the rest of the group, and although Isla and her dad want to follow her and the other swans but she can't. She loses sight of them and there is nothing they can do.
The next weekend they go back out, in the cold and the wind, to try and track the path of the swans, but, while there; Isla's dad has a heart attack. Immediately, all thoughts of the swans are swept away from Isla's mind, and in place of them is the constant nagging worry that her dad won't make it, he'll never get better, what if he dies?
While at the hospital, Isla makes friends with a boy around her own age; Harry, who has Leukemia, and is waiting for a bone marrow transplant. As a result of Harry's friendship, she learns to hold on to hope, and love and not give up in times that are hard. And through the window of his room they see a lone female swan - who Isla thinks is the one she was attracted to that day at the wetlands preserve - struggling to lean how to fly on the lake below. So with the help of her grandfather, Isla constructs some swan wings that she can use to teach 'her' swan how to fly...
I loved Harry. He was so bright, and optimistic and inspirational. Literally. every time i read about him i would smile, he just had that effect on people, which was why Isla became such a different person as the book progressed, bolder, more determined, strong and hopeful..... CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! ;)
Isla was the perfect main character. She had her flaws, as does everyone, and that's what made the book so relatable and realistic; i was drawn into her life and experienced every wrong turn - and right one - as she did. I grew with her and by the end of it, i had to blink back tears (both happy and sad!) that were threatening to fall and the ending...it was sweet, and sanguine and....just perfect.
It was so touching and uplifting, and as Ruby said in one of her reviews, it didn't scream "LOVE ME", but gradually pulled me in until i was hooked, and could not bear to put it down until the end.
p.s i would have done the whole 'quote love' bit but I LOST THE PAPER WITH ALL THE QUOTES ON! *cries*
*thank you to the lovely Nina at Chicken House for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review on my blog.