'when you sing, always tell the truth' —billie holiday
the single bird, frozen in take off, portrayed on the cover of blue wings unfolding mirrors the pages enclosed within. with a self-designed cover, independently published, author michele baron has definitely proved her worth with this oftentimes lyrical debut.
blue wings unfolding remarks on the difficulties of growing up, specifically growing up different & growing up fast. written in short, structured paragraphs (as if this can somehow prevent the inevitability of angst), baron churns out a whimsical narration, a quote at the start of each chapter adding even more poignancy to each hum & thrum at the heart of her work. the book follows part of the story of an aspiring blues singer, jayleigh, & we see her obvious passion for music contrasted with some of her darkest moments—more than her fair share, it would be safe to say.
the delicacy with which baron stitches the words together to create this sorrowful tapestry is revelational at times, remarking on both the awe in & awful nature of life. we all eventually reach the point where 'we know that the emperor doesn't really have a new set of clothes; he is naked', yet some of us arrive there through the natural progression of time, and yet others are forced beyond our years, thereby making us who we are & who we fight to be.
another topic that baron weaves in so effortlessly is that of neurodiversity. what i really liked was how she portrayed it as something natural, as if jayleigh was just commenting on a mole above her lip. baron highlights the reality for so many neurodivergent people, that they may not know—or, seemingly in jayleigh's case, even care—about the way their brains function. i found it refreshing that her slight quirks & obsessions were not made out to be wrong or damaging—in fact, it was rather the opposite! we are made to believe that jayleigh's unaffectedness & detachment (which is evident straight from the start of the book, c.f., 'i have a family that may as well be everything from soap, jambalaya, ice cream for dessert, & the compost pile of leftovers after the 'melting pot' has been cleared from the table') is perfectly typical & even with the introduction of autism & asperger's, we believe her to be nothing 'unusual'. given societal expectations, that is some truly brilliant writing.
blue wings unfolding is a coming-of-age novel brimming with electric injustice at having to come of age before you ought to. ending on a spark of hope, it is nothing short of a fantastic read & a true reminder for us artists that 'the world is both an inspiration & an audience'.
& so we fly.
World-traveler, former Fulbright Fellow Michele Baron currently lives in Kyrgyzstan, develops outreach projects, writes poetry, prose, non-fiction, has self-published A Modest Menu: Poverty, Hunger and Food Security, in Poetry and Prose; and A Holiday Carol; and blue wings unfolding (@amazon.com); and is a visual/performance artist among other occupations.