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 have to admit - from the get go I was really intrigued about this one. The synopsis didn't 100% prepare me for everything this book was going to unleash, and that was in a good way, mostly. While I don't think Wild Awake is going to be the ultimate book for every reader, I think it is definitely a debut to give a chance.
Hilary T. Smith has an endearing writing style that will captivate readers. It just entices you to read more. There is a balance of humor within the rest of the story. There were just so many great lines!
Wild Awake is a page turner - that is for sure. I never wanted to stop flipping pages, always wanting to know what would happen next.
I definitely want to read more from Hilary T. Smith in the future. Wild Awake overall was a hit for me, and I am beyond intrigued to see what she will come up with next.
Words Cannot Describe
I kept hearing the buzz about Wild Awake through friends,social media, and YA book talk. Wild Awake is not the type of YA book I pick up but over the summer I always like to try something new. I was impressed with this debut novel.
All in all, Wild Awake is a novel about grief and grief can make people do crazy things. At times the narration is messy and chaotic. I mean messy and chaotic in a good way. It makes the narration real. The stream of consciousness while disjointed is true to character. Krir's voice in authentic and Hilary T. Smith did a wonderful job touching about the range of emotions a young woman would go through. These emotions are not always clean cut and can be messy- but isn't that what real life is like?
Hilary T. Smith is a gifted writer and definitely knows how to draw a reader in and keep them engaged. I couldn't put this book down and read the entire novel one day at the beach. She provides an honest portrayal of a young teenage girl who has gone through more than anyone can imagine. By the end of the book the reader has delved deep into Kiri's mind-it isn't pretty and Kiri can be unlikeable at times. But this makes the book all the more interesting and addicting. Kiri is not sugar coated to fit a standard vision of what a young teen with a troubled history should be. The fact that Kiri is not always likable puts me in a love/hate relationship that I always love in books. It is this type of character that adds a little something extra to the story and makes the story memorable. This book leaves people with something to think about.
Wild Awake will leave you with lots to talk about. It is a unique book and one that will appeal to certain readers. But for those willing to take a risk- read Wild Awake. I think readers will be pleasantly surprised.
Vibrant Teen Voice
What I Liked:
Wild Awake got so many rave reviews from trusted reviewers, but even so I was a bit hesitant to read the book. Reason one was that I'm not much interested in books on drug use. Reason two is that a couple of people mentioned the style was sort of stream of consciousness, which I tend not to enjoy. Thus, I decided the audiobook would be a good way to not be bothered by the latter but still check out the book. This was a good choice for me.
Kiri has been left alone for the summer while her parents go on a cruise. Her parents are seriously neglectful, because this Kiri spends the summer making terrible decisions: getting drunk, smoking pot, neglecting to practice for her piano recital, and mostly entering bad neighborhoods alone. Kiri has gone off the rails because she got a call from someone who said he had her dead sister's stuff. Since she idolized her sister Sukey, and learning so many things her family kept from her (like the fact that her sister was murdered and didn't die in a car crash) dredges up her emotions again and she's not prepared to handle that.
While I cannot say that I particularly liked Kiri, she did feel very real and very much like a teen. There was just something so naively unaware about Kiri and the way she approached life, and she did everything with so much sincerity. She truly had no idea that taking a whole bunch of pills after smoking pot and drinking alcohol was liable to end with her death. She just felt so young and innocent, even if she doesn't act that way most of the time. She and Skunk are the only ones who really get fleshed out, though, so I did feel like some of the characterization was lacking.
Oh man, and I thought Piz was a horrible name for a love interest. We have a new winner! Skunk. Stinks, doesn't it? (*insert groans here*) Anyway, I actually liked Skunk, nickname and smoking aside, and his real name is Philippe, so he does have one. The two of them are both bad news bears and need to get on the straight and narrow. I don't think I want them to date forever, but they both needed someone to help them through some issues, so it was a good time for them. I didn't even mind that they instaloved, because Kiri thinks so many things that aren't true are true that it just felt like being young and naive.
What Left Me Wanting More:
This is where the story really lacked for me. There wasn't really ever a big confrontation with her family. She has a bit of an emotional arc with her older brother when he comes home to find her nearly dead, but her parents come home and just order her to see some shrinks. Like, really? That's it. Ugh. I just felt like there should have been MORE with all of that, since the central issue was Sukey, but the focus was more on Kiri's romance with Skunk, which was a bit unfortunate.
How was the Narration?
The narration totally delighted me, because McManus' voice sounds a lot like Christina Ricci, so I was picturing the whole book as a movie starring a young Christina Ricci, who totally would have been boss at this roll. Ricci was one of my favorite actresses back in the day because she shares my first name and was the only one to get to kiss a cute boy in Now and Then (even if she did grow up to be Rosie O'Donnell). Anyway, McManus does a good job capturing Kiri's youthful idealism.
Entertaining, insightful contemporary...
When I think summer read, I think of this book. This book takes place in the summer with Kiri's adventures that all begin with the mysterious call about a guy that has her sister's stuff. When she goes to pick up the stuff, she discovers a secret about her sister's death and it changes her in ways that she can't always control. She begins to learn who she is and she falls in love in the process.
I loved Kiri and her free spirit. She was wild as the title suggests, but I really enjoyed reading about it. There were some points in the story that I was shaking my head at her decisions (mostly those that seemed to be the same decisions her sister made that got her into trouble) and I was worried that the story would take a turn for the worst, but I began to accept her decisions as I learned more about her. I don't know if it's because I'm older and a mother, but I felt that the decisions she was making needed to be made in order for her to make bigger decisions and have the experience to move forward - more of a "you live, you learn" type of attitude. This book was exactly that, a "you live, you learn" type of book.
I really enjoyed the romance in this book. It was pure, passionate, honest. Kiri and Skunk accepted each other for who they were and there weren't any secrets, I loved the beauty of this type of relationship. They fit together so well- two broken people that help each other put the pieces back together. I would read another book about these two!
I really enjoyed the music in this book. I loved that Kiri was a piano player and in a band with a synthesizer. I loved that most of the characters in this book played music. It was really cool that there was a variety of music rather than just the band music that Kiri and Lukas play. It's been awhile since I read a book with such a huge musical presence and this book did good.
I am really glad I read this book when I did. It was the perfect summer read and I loved the uniqueness of the story and characters. I found myself having a crazy adventure through Kiri's antics that I didn't want to end. I was living and learning through Kiri and having fun doing it. This book was fun to read, it was entertaining, it was wild, it was crazy, and above all this book came alive for me and left me wanting more.
Wild Awake Review
This was an interesting book. I avoided reading any reviews prior to opening this one as I didn’t want them to impact what I thought. I have heard from a number of people that they either really liked it or really disliked it. I have to say, I am more middle of the road on this one. The main reason for that is that I have to enjoy not only the story but the characters and I just didn’t get this here.
First, the story – I honestly liked it and it kept me turning the pages as I wanted to see what was going to happen to these characters…not so much because I liked them but because I was curious. The story itself is beautifully written and I was interested because with a blurb that included the words, love, loss, chaos, and murder in it I was intrigued.
Kiri is the main character. She is 17 years old and home alone for 6 weeks. She has a list of things to do but her main focus is practicing her piano for her showcase and also winning Battle of the Bands with her BFF Lukas. Kiri gets a phone call one night that throws everything off track and ultimately changes her plans for the next 6 weeks. That call is from a man named Doug who says he knew Kiri’s sister Sukey when she was alive and he tells her that if she wants Sukey’s things, she needs to come get them. The rest of the story is about Kiri coming to terms with what happened to her sister as her parents and brother never told her the truth about how she died as well as dealing with the impact of what she learns. I liked seeing the relationship and friendship develop between Kiri and Skunk but I honestly wasn't invested. Here’s why….I thought Kiri was a bit annoying and made some really stupid decisions.
So the characters….First let me talk about Kiri. As I mentioned, Kiri made some (really) stupid decisions – which happens at 17 but seriously – who is going to make the decision late at night to ride their bike through a shady part of town to meet someone they don’t know??? Then, I understand Skunk was being nice, but based on the initial description of him, I would never go off with someone I don’t know in the middle of (again) a shady area of town because he says he will fix my bike tire.
As the story progressed, it was clear that Kiri was acting oddly and she had no support system in place to help address her issues. Her brother wasn't consistently around and her parents are gone.
I did like Skunk and once his back story was revealed, I liked him more. He still struggled with everything going on in his head and clearly his aunt thought Kiri wasn't the best thing for him. Despite that he was trying to get through each day the best he could. Ultimately I was happy to see Kiri come through despite her manic approach to getting him to face his fear.
Lukas was a tool and I was so glad that Kiri finally realized it. The only thing I wish would have happened between him and Kiri is that she had the opportunity to tell him off. He knew she had feelings for him (before the embarrassing movie night) and didn't really do anything to discourage her….the “we should focus on the music” conversation was lame. Maybe it's me but I would most likely have taken the chance to let Lukas know exactly what I thought of him and his inability to do anything but focus on what he wanted.
I honestly have no words for the parents – other than I found it somewhat unbelievable that any parents would leave their teenage daughter home by herself for 6 weeks. Yes, Kiri may have given them the impression that she had it together but that timeframe is not realistic…Forget the fact that their eldest daughter was brutally murdered 4 years ago, she is 17. That is all I have to say about that.
Overall I can’t say that I loved this but I also didn't hate it. I rate this between 2.5 – 3 stars as I enjoyed the story – just disliked most of the characters.
Reading this book felt like I was in a hazy dream. I even listened to Magic Wand’s Aloha Moon album while reading to add to the effect and I tell you, it was effective. I spent time thinking about what to write about this and until now, I honestly don’t know. I don’t know what I feel about it. I requested this because it involved music but I never expected it to be a wild and crazy roller coaster ride with Kiri.
Everything about this book screams grief. Here, we get to meet Kiri, who tried to be the perfect daughter with perfect grades and perfect piano skills after her sister died 5 years ago. When a stranger called their house and told her to pick up her sister’s stuff, that’s where the whole craziness started.
This book was one of the few most unpredictable books I’ve ever read. Each time I turn the page, I can’t help to anticipate something crazy. Though Kiri’s adventure started with the truth about how Sukey died, the whole ride was so much more than that. Through that, she learned to discover herself, accept some truth, helped others find themselves and eventually made peace with her sister’s death.
Aside from the part about her parents leaving her alone for 6 weeks, everything else feels so real. Even the unpredictable turn of events felt real. It somehow shows how crazy life really is and how you’ll obviously screw up some things and make really bad decisions, but it’s how feeling alive is. Smith really did a good job in writing Kiri’s character and how she reacted with everything that happened to her. She really captured how a teenager would probably react that it made her silliness real.
On the romance part, at first I had a hard time believing that Kiri and Skunk would be serious. Although it was quite obvious, I really didn't pegged him as a boyfriend material at first. But the thing about him surely blown my mind. Some might think these two are the cliche scarred-people-completing-each-other but it's not. Both of them grew up individually and although the other might also be part of that reason, they obviously did it for themselves.
Although I’m still lost on what I should feel about this book, I’m quite sure that it left something in me. This story sure felt like meeting a kindred spirit. To those who are in doubt about this book, give it a try. You might surprise yourself and fall in love with this book.