Review: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Friday, 28 June 2013

Book: Wild Awake
Author: Hilary T. Smith
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Pages: 375 Pages
Format: Hardcover

Oh. My. God.

Goodreads Summary

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


I don't know how to form my thoughts into words. I wasn't expecting what this book held for me. I don't even know what I was expecting, but what I got was so much better. This review comes to you in four parts:

Part 1; characters. Kiri Byrd is our protagonist and what a wonderful one she is. She is quirky and obsessive and she is filled with this sense of homesickness, or wanderlust, for the unknown (see the German word, Fernweh). In the beginning of the book, she discovers something about her sister's death that she never knew and that sets her off. This reminds me of something from Robyn Schneider, The Beginning of Everything, in the way that each person has a personal tragedy. The character of Skunk stood out in my mind also. He was just a kid who was really passionate. He loved with all his heart and he was protective of the people around him that he cared out. So what if he had a Thing? He put other people first.

Part 2; plot. Now when I first started to understand where this book was going, I was a little hesitant to say the least. It was not what I was really expecting, and that threw me off. I thought that this book would be more about her journey to get her sisters things, as it leads you to believe in the synopsis, but when things took a turn for the different, I knew that I was already in too deep to jump out.

Part 3; Writing. In my mind I keep saying that Hilary T. Smith is the Tahereh Mafi of contemporary, crafting prose like a seasoned professional. She writes with such incredible prose that at times I felt as high as Kiri. her writing simply carries you through the pages, making you lose track of how many have come and gone and how many are yet to arrive. As the book starts, her writing is more mainstream, very by the book, but as Kiri begins to break out and lose it, so does her writing. It gets more ecstatic, forcing the reader to look at things differently. A splatter of paint is now a life line and a radio is a connection. She has such amazing metaphors packed into her writing that I still feel as if I'm riding that high with Kiri, even after 11 hours of finishing it.

Part 4; themes. In Wild Awake Kiri explores the unknown in her own mind. She becomes her own person, wading through the murky waters of mental illness, love, life, and what it means to really be alive. I didn't know that the title could be so perfect for the story. Kiri is manic, compulsive, and so drunk with her own freedom that she is able to hurt herself. She is wild, and she gives a new meaning. She is the personification of wild, and her insomnia only adds to that.

Wild Awake has taken my breath away and with it my ability to properly form sentences. I was taken aback by this book, struck by beauty and meaning. I give this book a 6/5 stars, not because it deserves the extra star, but because it reached into my mind and stole it away. And I let it go.

-Indigo

@indigowayworth

2 comments

  1. Wow, this book sounds amazing!!! I wasn't to sure about it, but your review is definitely encouraging me to pick it up!!!

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  2. @Flytothesky I was so hesitant to read it, but it was fantastic! Make sure you set aside time to read this in one go! It'll be so much better that way ;)

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