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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Title: Wild Awake
Author: Hilary T. Smith

Release Date: 1st October 2013

My Rating: 4/5

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.

In A Nutshell:
Intense, chaotic, messy and impulsive. For the most part, I loved Wild Awake. However I did have a couple of issues with it.

My Review:
I’m not quite sure how to review Wild Awake. It’s intense and chaotic, messy and impulsive, which is generally how you could describe ‘life’. For the most part, I adored Wild Awake, but it is also because of these things that I have issues with it.

Kiri and Skunk are both looking for answers in their own way. Both are trying to stay afloat in a world that likes labels and hiding truths. It’s a story about love, about trying to find beauty and purpose in life, and opening your eyes to experience everything that it has to offer.

Usually an exceptionally responsible seventeen year-old, Kiri’s parents have decided to leave her home alone while they celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on a cruise. Kiri plans to spend her time practising piano, all day, every day. However, her plans go a little array when she receives a phone call from a strange man claiming to have some of her dead sister’s things. On a mission to reclaim these items, Kiri discovers that the ‘truth’ her parents told her about Sukey’s death, is actually a lie. And so begins Kiri’s search for answers.

What Kiri learns is something she struggles to comprehend and match with the memories she has of Sukey. Kiri goes more than a little ‘off the rails’ and it is here that my love for the novel lessens a bit. Kiri’s behaviour becomes quite drastic and she starts obsessing over everything, doing nothing in moderation and everything in excess. From her piano practice to her drug taking, everything is enhanced and done to within an inch of her life, literally. This is where I find it difficult to really accept the novel. In real life, Kiri would be dead from what she puts her body through. And while I love Kiri’s relationship with Skunk and how his mental illness is handled throughout the book, at the same time, Kiri’s erratic behaviour continues to get worse but she doesn’t really face any of the consequences of what could happen from putting herself in certain situations. I’m not fond of putting age recommendations on books but in this case I would recommend it for older readers (15+) purely for the maturity levels needed to process some of the dangerous situations Kiri puts herself in.

So, like I said, I have mixed feelings. While I love what the novel is about, and the beautiful relationship between Kiri and Skunk, I really wish there was a wake-up call or something for Kiri’s behaviour, at least more than the little we are offered in the second last chapter.

I’d like to leave you now with a link to Reynje’s review over at Wordchasing because I think it beautifully sums up Wild Awake, far better than I ever could, but I also think it is one of the best reviews I have ever read, for anything. 

"There are no mistakes, I realize – just detours whose significance only become clear when you see the whole picture at once."

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