Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Wild Awake4.5 out of 5 Robots!

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
Genre: Contemporary YA
Release: May 28, 2013
Hardcover: 375 Pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

Shannon's Thoughts:
This book really took me by surprise.  If I had more of an inkling about what this book was really about, then I probably wouldn't have read it.  It contains a few of subject matters I generally avoid: drugs, mental illness, rocks bands.  But despite all of this, I ended up really enjoying this book and thought it was extremely well written.

Kiri is alone for the summer.  Her parents are on a cruise.  Her older brother is at college.  She is an accomplished pianist, both classically and contemporary.  She is in love with her bandmate, Lukas, and hopes to win his heart.  She has a bit of a sordid family history:  her beloved older sister had a very strained relationship with their parents. Kiri adored Sukey and Sukey's artist lifestyle.  But, Sukey died in a car accident 5 years ago when Kiri was just 12 years old.  While she was looking forward to a summer of piano practice, Lukas and smoking pot, she receives a mysterious phone call out of the blue telling her to go pick her sister's stuff up.  Kiri decides to go but ends up with a lot more than some personal effects.  She learns that her sister's death was not all it seems to be.  This sends Kiri into a slow downward spiral as she struggles to deal with her grief over Sukey's death.

This is kind of the beauty of Wild Awake.  It is the chaotic, messy, beautiful, haunting feelings of being a teenager, being afraid, being alone, being in love and, ultimately of grief.  Kiri is not perfect, nor does she try to be.  She FEELS.  Intensely.  And often times wonders why other people around her don't feel things like she does.  She kind of delusional and slowly starts to lose her grip.  And she doesn't even really realize she is doing it.  She really has no idea how to deal and her mental health really suffers.  Smith's real accomplishment is in how she invites the reader into Kiri's mindset.  You get an extremely vivid picture of how and why Kiri thinks.  Smith gives you a front row seat to madness.  I liked that the fallout from Kiri's grief wasn't necessarily depression, but almost a willful ignorance to her feelings and a desperation to feel something - anything - else besides the pain.  It felt very real.  And very scary.  By the time Kiri's actions turned self-destructive, I ached to reach through the pages to her.  I give the author a lot of props for making me feel like I was truly there with Kiri.  And I also appreciated that the book does end on a hopeful note.  I don't know if I could have handled it if it didn't!

I don't think this book is for everyone.  It is very raw and does contain drugs and sex.  But I also really recommend it, especially if you are on the fence about reading it.  It might surprise you like it did me.

1 comment :

  1. Glad to hear you liked it! I've heard a lot of buzz about this book coming out, but I think this is the first actual review for it that I've seen. I'm not sure yet if I want to read it - the talk about depression is a bit too close to me sometimes, but I think eventually I will read it.



Related Posts Plugin