Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Review of Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Wild Awake 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.

(Summary from GoodReads)

As you guys know, Wild Awake was one of my favorite books that I read in 2015.  I took it on vacation when my family and I went to Acadia National Park, and I’m really glad that I took it on vacation.  Even though I read the book relatively quickly and things kept happening, the story still had kind of a slow, syrupy feeling. 

When Kiri gets a phone call that a stranger has things that belonged to her sister, Sukey, who died five years ago, she goes to get it, and starts to learn about parts of her sister’s life and her city that she hasn’t seen before.  She also happens across a boy named Skunk who fixes her bike for her.  Kiri had expected to spend all summer practicing piano, which she is extremely gifted at, and playing in a band with her friend Lukas, who she may also have a crush on. As all of this is happening, she essentially goes through a mental break. Readers who have struggled with mental illness or know someone who has gone through it will probably see Kiri’s struggles and feel a sense of familiarity, sometimes in an uncomfortable way. 

In a lot of ways, Wild Awake is a serious story about mental illness and about finding closure. However, it’s also a story about a summer of falling in love and new experiences and new people.  I love reading about Kiri and her love interest because it was clear that it was a relationship that felt good for both of them.  Smith’s prose is absolutely stunning and makes every emotion that Kiri feels extremely raw.

Smith’s debut is a book that I want to revisit over and over again.  I want to revisit it for the gorgeous writing, to think about how Kiri transforms over the summer, about the relationship that Kiri and her family have with Sukey. Wild Awake is a fantastic novel and one you should pick up  if you haven’t already.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

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