Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

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. (from GoodReads)

I'm having trouble gathering my thoughts about this book and I don't really know how I feel about it. There were some parts I liked and some parts I didn't. I think I liked it? I'll try to figure out as I review Wild Awake.

I can start off by saying that I loved the beginning. Kiri was such a cool character: she plays piano beautifully, is also in a band, and is trying to hook up with her bandmate Lukas. Kiri has a great voice and sounded just like a teenager. When she gets that fated phone call about her dead sister, I was so curious as to find out the secret about Sukey's death. I really had no idea what it was. Through this adventure, Kiri realizes that the idealized version of her sister she kept in her mind wasn't actually how Sukey was at all. Kiri was about ten when her supposedly cool and artistic older sister died, and to cope she only remembered the good about her. This ends up not being the case when Kiri visits a seedy part of the city.

As Kiri learns more and more about Sukey, the stress really gets to her. Pretty much everything Kiri thought she knew comes crumbling down around her. I thought the author did a great job of describing Kiri's deteriorating mental state. It's obvious that her parents and older brother didn't want to talk about Sukey and Kiri felt that she had to be the perfect child in order to please her parents and keep everyone from falling apart. That's why she started playing the piano and practicing for hours a day.

That being said, it was still hard to read about Kiri's issues because no one else understood what she was going through and couldn't see that she really needed help. With the exception of Kiri's new love interest, Skunk, who is dealing with his issues, everyone is blind to Kiri's cries for attention. The fact that her parents laughed when she told them she hadn't been sleeping over the course of the few days just shows how disengaged they really are. (Kiri's parents are on vacation which is why she is able to run wild). When Kiri starts to lose her hold on reality is when the book started to lose me. The writing got a little messy and lost direction until the ending.

The one part that really irked me about Wild Awake was that I could not for the life of me place the setting of the book! The writing and dialogue sounded American, but the way the city was described sounded European. So I guess the logical conclusion would be Canada. It took me half the book to finally Google some of the locations and I figured out the book is set in Canada, specifically Vancouver. It was really driving me crazy!

Overall, I enjoyed Wild Awake as a coming-of-age story and as a vehicle for the author to write about mental health, specifically how an event can really set a person off. There were some things that annoyed me but if you're fans of this type of literature you should definitely read Wild Awake

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2013/Katherine Tegen Books/375 pages.

1 comment:

We Heart YA said...

You know, it's interesting, Kristan felt almost exactly as you did, whereas Ingrid and Sarah both adored this book to pieces. (Sarah likes to say that she wants to carry the last chapter around in her pocket, because it's just perfect. Hehehe.) Anyhoot, overall we definitely recommend it, and we're glad that you mostly enjoyed it too!