Congratulations 2020 Morris Award Finalist Kyrie McCauley

Dear Reader,

Like so many stories, this one began with the question what if? What if I could slip through time and talk to my sixteen-year-old self? I know exactly what I’d tell her: It isn’t okay. You aren’t alone. At the time, a different what if pervaded my thoughts. What if today it goes too far? What if this is where my story ends? I didn’t know it was domestic violence. No one had ever described it that way. And I’d certainly never seen it in a book.

As an adult, I turned to advocacy, volunteering at a domestic violence intake center and studying the sociological roots of violence. But the more knowledge I gained, the more fervently I wished I could go back and share that hard-won knowledge with the version of me that needed it most.

Then I realized that I don’t need time travel to find teenagers who need to hear these words. They are here, now, searching for stories that answer the questions they don’t know how to ask. I wrote If These Wings Could Fly so that those who never experienced it might better understand the complexity of domestic violence. And I wrote it so that anyone living within the experience can hear this: It isn’t okay. You aren’t alone.

My goal was always to tell this story through the lens of hope, and to pass the urgency of that hope on to a reader who needs it most. To encourage a new kind of what if. What if this is not the end of the story, but the beginning?

Thank you for reading.

Kyrie McCauley


“A hauntingly intense tale thrumming with hope! A stunning, powerful debut.”
— Tiffany D. Jackson, award-winning author of Monday's Not Coming

“A deep dive to illustrate the quiet strength of those in the darkest situations, If These Wings Could Fly is atmospheric, brilliantly drawn, and ultimately hopeful.”
— Mindy McGinnis, author of The Female of the Species

“Heartbreaking, important, and layered with so much hope, this book breathes magic into every chapter.”
— Akemi Dawn Bowman, Morris Award Finalist and author of Starfish

" lyrical novel authentic, intimate first-person narration… Strong writing that features some dreamily lovely turns of phrase… A powerful, thoughtful, and ultimately hopeful debut."
— Kirkus Reviews

"Poignant and powerful, this novel uses magical realism to examine choice in a difficult world. There are titles for teens that address the realities of dating violence, but it’s more difficult to find stories of family violence; in her debut, McCauley traverses the tender ground with grace."

"McCauley offers just a touch of magical realism here, layering a painfully honest exploration of domestic violence with a subtle eeriness… Her narration is elegant and thoughtful… a refreshing portrayal of two teens who negotiate their own challenges while acknowledging those of others."
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

"McCauley makes a moving debut with this hard-hitting novel set in a small, tightly knit town."
Publishers Weekly

About the Book

Perfect for fans of Laura Ruby, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Mindy McGinnis, Kyrie McCauley’s stunning YA debut is a powerful story about the haunting specter of domestic violence and the rebellious forces of sisterhood and first love.

Tens of thousands of crows invading Auburn, Pennsylvania, is a problem for everyone in town except seventeen-year-old Leighton Barnes. For Leighton, it’s no stranger than her house, which inexplicably repairs itself every time her father loses his temper and breaks things.

Leighton doesn’t have time for the crows—it’s her senior year, and acceptance to her dream college is finally within reach. But grabbing that lifeline means abandoning her sisters, a choice she’s not ready to face.

With her father’s rage worsening and the town in chaos over the crows, Leighton allows herself a chance at happiness with Liam, her charming classmate, even though falling in love feels like a revolutionary act.

Balancing school, dating, and survival under the shadow of sixty thousand feathered wings starts to feel almost comfortable, but Leighton knows that this fragile equilibrium can only last so long before it shatters.

About the Author

Kyrie McCauley has always been a storyteller. She has also been a waitress, nanny, singer in a band, ACLU intern, rally organizer, Truman Scholar, and most recently, a mother and a writer. She holds a Master of Science in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives near Philadelphia with her husband, children, and several cats.