Wings of a Bee: A Young Adult Novel.


223 pages
ISBN 978-1-894549-68-4
DDC jC813'.6





Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


The words “A Young Adult Novel” appear on Wings of a Bee’s cover, but Roorda’s first book for this audience breaks a number of the unwritten rules governing the genre. First, when middle school female readers initially encounter the central character, Bronwyn DeGroot, she is in grade 2, a possibly off-putting age for early adolescents seeking images of what life may yet offer. However, if persistent, they’ll follow Bronwyn through six more years, a much longer time span than normally found in YA novels.


Those readers seeking a sharply defined plot may be disappointed since Wings of a Bee’s storyline consists of a series of loosely linked episodes. Nonetheless, readers who persevere will be rewarded by the emergence of a moving portrait of a 1980s Ontario family of five, one in which family dynamics are largely shaped by the presence of a child with cerebral palsy. Bronwyn, five years older than her brother Rodney, shares her bedroom with her sister Carey, two years her junior.


Mute, wheelchair bound, and physically severely limited, Carey is the title’s bee. Just as the bee’s shape suggests it shouldn’t be able to fly, the outside adult world negatively generalizes from Carey’s body to her mind, and yet, by age five, Carey had taught herself to read and to communicate via a spelling board. Despite Bronwyn’s occasional jealousy over the time and attention her parents give Carey, the siblings are emotionally close, a fact Bronwyn more fully comprehends upon Carey’s death. Not an “every-girl” book, Wings of a Bee will find its readers. Recommended.


Roorda, Julie., “Wings of a Bee: A Young Adult Novel.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 18, 2024,