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.
My rating: 3.9999 of 5 stars
Some may feel that there’s whole lot of nothing going on in this one, save a spoiled bratty girl unable to cope doing brattier and brattier/more and more insane things with each moment. And sure, all that’s there, but for me it’s more than that... I personally think a moral at the end is not the thing that makes a story ‘good.’ Wild Awake reads a little like Out of Reach (the latter seemingly with no point/“lesson” either, with the bad having occurred and becoming the (not so) simple matter of going on, picking up the pieces, then fitting them together.)
Wait! I had a point when I started this. I suppose if there’s but one “something” to take from this, it’s not just the grief that goes unrecognized, or the love that she thinks she has for a certain someone, or even that new connection unexpectedly made available to her (well, OK all those are vital aspects, of course) but in this one, it’s the people that count: what they do and how they do it that does (maybe the why, not so much.) (incidentally, I enjoyed both this one and Out of Reach) because where OoR has a girl coming to grips with what’s become of her brother and not simply about her opening her eyes to the suckiness/goodness of people… well, WA touches on that too.
Kiri’s dutiful daughter, the good best friend doing all the right things.
‘Till that phone call because what she discovers knocks her off her stride, which she doesn’t quite get back through out her story. It’s this that has her doing a number of things that have her feeling more and more random and odd and out there for me. Internally, she’s not quite sure about what to do, how to do or why to do anything. So she’s spiraling out of control, but at the same time, she meets these people a little… No, a lot like her: off their stride, one way or another.
Kiri’s all over the place.
And how all over the place was she? She does everything/anything/most in such a direct manner, that her actions read bigger and slightly improbable. It’s what allows for connections to be made, wherein the strength of her story lies. These links she makes plus what she does and how she does things because she’s not in that right place (yet). All those make for an intense read. Everything happens in the now, is fast and big and sudden. But, there’s a touch of sad too, given the way she’s dealing shifts to her not dealing, obvious with how fast and out of hand things turn. So this has
Grief? Yes. Love? Yes. Coming to terms? Self-Discovery? Yes. and Yes, too. It’s not quite the mess I think I’m making it out to be because Kiri’s voice is spirited, it goes up and up and up then down and then back again. It’s unsettling, really, I couldn’t settle on one feeling for her because she wasn’t settled either. We’re right smack at the beginning of her Thing (as both she and Skunk put it). The not knowing it for what it is then maybe seeing it AND eventually recognizing it for what it is… that’s what made this a touch sad, even with all the craziness going on.
So, thank you, Edelweiss!
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