Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wild At Heart

Expected Publication:  May 28th, 2013
Wild Awake
By: Hilary T. Smith
Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN-13:  9780062184689

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.

     Kiri Byrd is spending the summer alone at home, while her parents are away on their anniversary cruise and her older brother Denny stays at school for extra classes.  She counts on hanging out with her best friend Lukas and finally making him see her as more than just a friend.  Kiri expects to practice almost every waking second for the piano showcase that is supposed to change her life and secure her future - all while winning Battle of the Bands with Lukas and getting the acclaim they deserve.  She doesn't expect for things to come crashing down with just one phone call: it come from someone named Doug telling her to come pick up her dead sister Sukey's stuff before her old building is torn down for good.  After suppressing the pain and anger at her parents for Sukey's death, Kiri begins to break - especially once she learns that Sukey's death was no accident after all.  Can Kiri pick up the pieces with the help of an unusual new friend named Skunk, and turn her life into something worth living again?  Or will she let grief consume her until there's nothing left? 
     This book was about the pain of family, losing someone you love, growing up and falling in love for the first time.  Most of all, it was about learning to accept and express feelings, even negative ones, for what they are.  Kiri spends most of the book trying to numb herself with weed and alcohol, hoping to forget everything that's wrong with her life.  Kiri starts the novel as someone with no self-worth, who is living for other people.  I absolutely loved the way she grows and changes, but the best thing for me was relationship with Skunk, the guy who fixes her bike when she's in the city getting Sukey's things.  He is obviously in a bad place as well and the way they connect to each other is sweet and her acceptance of his crazy, messy existence speaks volumes for Kiri and the woman she's becoming.  I felt like the open ended way this book resolved went with the almost aimless wandering of the plot.  It wasn't meant to change the world, just to tell the story of Kiri Byrd and her dysfunctional family, trapped in their grief and trying to make their way out of it.  This reminded me a lot of a Sarah Dessen or Simone Elkeles book and the prose was beautiful.  The one thing that irked me was how little time was spent with the musical side of Kiri's life (except to show how badly she was screwing it up), when she's basically described as a prodigy.  It just felt like background noise to me, put there to fill in some vague character details.  Overall, an interesting and well written novel, but something was always keeping me from connecting to it with that last little thread.  Worth a read for anyone who enjoys contemporary YA fiction, with major family issues and some romance mixed in for good measure.

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It became available for purchase on May 28th, 2013.*


  1. I wondered if this one would be good or not. I think I may of saw it on NetGalley? Anyways, I"m glad I read your review I have a better understanding now about this book. It sounds contemporary to me and its a standalone. I usually don't like contemp reads too much especially if the books are extremely issue-ridden. This one sounds like it has the element of mystery too - like maybe the reader doesn't find out until the end how the big sister was killed (since it wasn't an accident). Nicely reviewed, you've convinced me I should at least give this one a try.

    1. Gina, I wasn't sure about it at first either since most reviews I've seen have been pretty mixed. And yeah, it's no 13 Reasons Why but not every book is! This one was good and worth reading at least once. :)


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