“Flexible Wings” is a contemporary middle-grade novel that explores the lives of military children. The book delves into themes of sports, race, community, and volunteerism as a way of supporting families through difficult times.
In “Flexible Wings,” Summer Stevenson is an eleven-year-old military kid who dreams of having a permanent home and one-day swimming in the Olympics, just like her idol, Olympian Lia Neal. But those things seem out of reach, as her parents “the heroes” continually move the family from house to house like boxed-up toys.
After their last move, she thought her life would never change again, but now the moving truck is idling in front of her house, this time to take the family to Valencia, a small town in Southern California known for its bike trails, roller coasters, and great schools. But things aren’t so great for Summer. She worries constantly that her fighter-pilot mom could be redeployed at any moment, and she struggles to make new friends, thus finding herself in humiliating circumstances with her neighbors.
Summer sees a glimmer of hope when her parents sign her up for competitive swimming; unfortunately, she turns out to be the worst swimmer on the team. Inspired by nature and drawing support from friendships both old and new, including those with Grandma “Bachaan,” her coaches, and other kids on the swim team, Summer seeks the courage she’ll need to tackle life’s challenges.