Monday, February 25, 2013

Jen's Thoughts: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Published: May 28, 2013
HarperTeen, hardcover, 400pgs
Source: e-galley from publisher
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.

So, this book definitely earned the "Wild" in the title.


  •  I loved Kiri's eccentricities. This girl talks like my brain functions: in random fragments with tangents and strange metaphors and similes. I could read her stream of consciousness all day. And she's constantly searching for beauty in everything. I LOVE HER.
  •  I love whirlwind romances and vulnerable love stories and Kiri's is SO fast and fragile that you feel it could crumble at any given moment. (And it's SO sweet and tender and perfect, just the same.)
  •  I am a huge fan of the Unknown, so the mystery factor about Kiri's sister, Sukey's, death kept me flipping the pages for more, more, more.
  • Wild Awake is not afraid to tap into drug and alcohol use, heavily. Not things I necessarily condone, but they do happen. I can appreciate the fact that Hilary T. Smith doesn't shy away from that fact.
  •  The prose. OH, THE PROSE. It's delectable. And batshiz crazy.
  • This is a story of mental illness, which took me by surprise. This is one subject that draws me in without fail. And it's a smart read, too. The portrayal of obsession is both stunning and saddening.

  •  It took me awhile connect with the story, but once Wild Awake picked up speed (around page 75ish), I was HOOKED.
  • ABSENTEE, IGNORANT PARENTS. And this is no fault of the authors, but seriously, guys. The out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality just kills me. I hate adults sometimes! (the author does a fabulous job of painting the picture of d-bag parents, so I commend her for it!)
  • While I enjoyed the love story, I had a hard time picturing someone Kiri described as "love-bison" to be desirable. I KNOW, guys. That's shallow. But I like to fall in love with the love interests along with the protagonist, and he was described as Hagrid-esque. HAGRID!

Wrapping it Up
So many of you are going to adore this story. My friends are going to adore this story. I can already tell this is going to be a Big Deal in the YA world. And rightfully so, because Hilary T. Smith already has me itching for her next title, and Wild Awake isn't even released yet.
Go ahead and preorder this.

Got it Covered
MAN, this looks so much like the cover of Riptide by Lindsey Schiebe, sans surfboard and beach. The more I look at it, the more it perfectly coincides with the book: the paint splatter, the general wildness of the hair-whipping. Oh, HarperTeen and your gorgeous covers.


  1. This is a book about mental illness?? Now I REALLY have to read it!!

  2. Hi! So glad you felt enthused about this read too!! I kind of liked how she called him a love bison. It reminded me of my husband for some reason. I remember when I first started dating him some dreadful girl I know commented on a MySpace pic of us about WOW YOUR TASTE SURE HAS CHANGED. Um, thanks? Wow. That was mean and I can't believe I remember this. Anyway. James could qualify as a love bison I think. Anyway, that was a personal story.

    I loved Hilary's writing, and I think she really surprised me with how much voice Kiri had, how much heartbreak was going on in this family, and how she was losing control of everything. Good point about the MIA parents. I don't normally like that (prob because my parents were always kind of there) but this felt like some kind of literary device here. Like, oh this is how deluded my parents are... they are disappearing for a HAPPY trip when really... things are not happy. So it sucked but it worked and oh well who knows when Kiri would have figured things out if they hadn't gone on this trip.

  3. Oh my god. “Love-bison” and “Hagrid”? That honestly sounds just crazy enough to be a cute, touching romance story. And from the way you describe Kiri, Jen, she sounds like a totally likable protagonist. I’m honestly super excited for this book’s release date!

  4. I'm a few books away until I get to this one, but WOW I CANNOT WAIT. I've read a few reviews so far, but yours has me certain I'll love it. I can't wait for the prose. I didn't know it was about mental illness, either, but now I'm totally sold because I love books about mental illness.

  5. It's difficult to find knowledgeable people in this particular topic, however, you seem like you know what you're talking about!

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  6. Honestly, I really had no idea it was about mental illness, but now that I do, I KNOW that I want to read it. It sounds absolutely intriguing, and I think that I'm really going to like it.

  7. Ahahahah your description of the prose is dead on - bat shit crazy indeed, but impossible to set down.

    Hahaha yeah, Hagrid isn't quite my type either -- but it takes all kinds I guess. And yeah, the love bison thing. Just yeah.

  8. Your review has made me so much more excited to read this book! I actually love hearing that this not only isn't written in a more traditional manner, but that the story's contents themselves are outside of the norm. And I love how you mention the link between mental illness and creativity. I'm fascinated to see how that's played out in the story (even if the characters don't suffer from mental illnesses, per se). Such a well-written and thoughtful review!

    Irene Jennings of Cold Laser Dallas