By: Hilary T. Smith
Published by: HarperTeen
Wild Awake is quite the unique read. Hilary T. Smith’s writing style seems very open but allows the readers to take her characters in small doses. Both characters Kiri and Skunk break down realistically. Kiri’s thought process throughout the book developed like a cry for help that I wanted to answer. For the most part all of the characters in Wild Awake are tattered in some way. Everyone seems to have a slight flaw. Issues of mourning, mental health, drug use, parenting, and just living to expectations are what Wild Awake will tackle.
I am not usually a fan of broken narration in a book because sometimes it doesn’t feel necessary and takes me out of the story, BUT in Wild Awake it is necessary. I never had to stop and wonder where Smith was taking me. I knew that something was wrong with Kiri and I was briefly within her mind. Readers can often get a sense of what a character is feeling but while reading this book I was able to sense the darkness that was fighting to consume Kiri. The issues that Skunk was dealing with and how Kiri viewed that was also very powerful and impressive.
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FOR MY SONG PICK FOR THIS BOOK
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.
Kiri is hard to pinpoint throughout the book only because she’s discovering who she is now without her sister. Whoever she was before is changing. In the beginning Kiri seems to be on a planned path of a hopeful pianist. She is a very “checks and balances” sort of gal shortly in the beginning until she answers the mystery phone call. She goes on a goose chase to get answers of how her sister lived while away from home before her death. Kiri embarks on a combination of issues from her crush on her best friend, heartbreak, loss, and first love. My favorite parts of the book were her bike rides and her moments with Skunk. Smith made the shadiest part of town where Kiri’s sister lived seem like the best place ever because of interactions with Skunk.
Skunk used to be in a band and that should give explanation enough of for his name. His legal name is mentioned but I’ll let you find that out for yourselves. Skunk wasn’t the mystery that I expected. His story develops later in the book but at the perfect time. He is an amazing character that I loved because he allows Kiri’s crazier side to come to life. He isn’t over done in the flirtatious department, and has a calm quality to him. He’s the quiet guy in the corner who seems like he doesn’t want to be bothered. Kiri’s problems are literally dropped at his doorstep and instead of telling the crazy girl to leave he instead helps her and passes no judgment. He has his own problems that make him even more captivating and this allows Kiri to do some nurturing that makes for a great and sweet story.
The settings in this book are part of the story too. The decrepit building along with it’s inhabitants that Kiri discovers where her sister lived instead of living back home with her family has it’s own story. The building is so bad that a strong wind could have taken it down. Skunks room seemed amazing too because of his mass collection of radios and the infamous teapot that never manages to empty. And the roof! Oh that roof holds mystical qualities that are undeniable.
This book was really amazing because of its realistic quality. Real issues that may make some readers uncomfortable are discussed. But I really think that those are the readers that should give Wild Awake a shot. Books that challenge people to actually see the world are always good because they create awareness. Kiri and Skunk go though things that are actually happening. The younger generation deals with a lot of pressures and always will. This book will help others see inside the minds of a troubled young generation. I think that fans of Perks of a Wallflower will appreciate this book too. So if you want a strong enlightening read this summer go get a copy of Wild Awake.
** Don’t forget to check out my song pick for Wild Awake. I think it describes Kiri and Skunk because I always got the sense that something amazing was going to happen for Kiri. She just had to wait long enough for the surprise.