Thursday, May 2, 2013

Up and Coming: Wild Awake by Hillary T Smith

Katie was moved to read this book because of the author blurb on the front. We can't argue, that's a great blurb! She's here to tell us if the book stood up to the blurb. 

Wild Awake includes a blurb by Gayle Forman: “Hilary T. Smith’s absorbing debut whispers with mystery, drawing us into a world of dead sisters, family secrets, midnight bicycle rides, music, madness, and art--ultimately exploring that most profound mystery of all: love.”

I don’t know about you, but I was instantly sold.

And she’s so right. But I can’t help but think there was more going on here than that--it’s also a book about grief and coping and expectations and family and freedom. In fact, it might be easiest to just boil it down and say that this is a book about life in all its messy glory.

Left alone at home for weeks while her parents are on an anniversary cruise, Kiri plans to practice for her piano competition, prepare for a battle of the bands, and maybe do a little bit of kissing with her band mate if all goes well. But we all know what happens to the best laid plans, and the case is no different here. When Kiri gets a call from a man with a box filled with her dead sister’s things, she gets on her bike, gets lost, meets a boy, and is led on a merry chase. What begins as a moment of impulse spirals out into a celebration of being alive and aware of every moment. As Kiri’s world expands to include madness, love, heartbreak, pain, failure, and joy, the reader can’t help but be pulled with her into the immediacy and messed up nature of life.

Hilary Smith’s writing is a standout, capturing the chaos of Kiri’s mind as she begins to throw off expectations of others, discovers the truth about her sister’s death, and falls in love. I can think of no one else in literature quite like Kiri Byrd and her realness feels like something we’ve all been missing.

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