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Estelle: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Wild Awake by Hilary T. SmithWild Awake by Hilary T. Smith ( twitter | web )
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Pages: 400
Target audience: Mature young adult (drug use, murder)
Keywords: music, family, siblings, summer, family secrets
Format read: Paperback borrowed from Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner.

Summary: Kiri is ready to make this a summer to remember with the house all to herself while her parents are on a long summer vacation. She knows she has to keep up with her piano lessons in preparation for the big symposium, but she’ll also be rocking out with her best friend aka the guy of her dreams, Lukas, in their band in hopes of winning Battle of the Bands. A call from a stranger changes the course of her summer, when she finds herself heading into a seedy part of town to pick up the possessions of her dead older sister years and years after she died in an accident. And suddenly the summer changes…

In her debut, Hilary T. Smith weaves electrifying visuals with a raw (and fresh) writing style, as our main character discovers that life as she knows it is a complete mystery.

Kiri is a genius pianist with a golden future ahead of her. She also plays the synthesizer in her best friend, Lukas’ band. She’s a sister (to a brother named Denny and her deceased older sister, Sukey). She smokes pot. She loves to ride her bike. And the straight path she thinks she is on — the one that includes taming her eyebrows, wooing Lukas, and keeping up with her piano lessons — is suddenly busted wide open when she receives a call from a stranger who claims he has the last of her sister’s stuff and it’s her last chance to come around and pick it up.

This is when Kiri’s surroundings become like a ticking time bomb, or some kind of twisted version of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Telltale Heart… except the ticking and the constant beating that her family has been trying to ignore and bury deep into the earth is: truth. What really happened to Sukey? Why wasn’t Kiri in the loop? Why does no one talk about her now? What is going on with her family? What is going on with her?

In the midst of these tragic and emotional discoveries, peppered with memories of a sister she idolized and cared so deeply about, Kiri bumps into Skunk one day, a random guy who seems nice enough and fixes her bike. And then she bumps into him again and they begin to bond in a way she hasn’t been able to do with others — partly because he knows this new truth. Their coupling is totally unconventional — it’s not based on looks or having a certain hobby in common. It really feels like happenstance. Kiri and Skunk slowly begin to depend on another, and even when the relationship reaches this peak of perfection (hello, Chapter 24) — nothing, still, is as it seems.

After a lifetime of balancing many roles — a kid who is motivated just to make her parents happy, the girl a guy can’t see, the rocking girl in a band — Kiri is spiraling, spiraling out of control. She can’t sleep, she can’t shut her mind off, and she continues to fall, fall, fall into some dangerous black hole. It’s amazing how much grief can transform you, even when it’s retroactive… even when you thought you were done with all of that.

Smith gives Kiri such a vivid voice — she’s insecure, she’s artistic, she feels sexy, she feels free, she feels stuck. Will she be able to crawl out of this? Confide in someone? Be honest with her parents? Be honest with herself? Wild Awake isn’t your typical summer contemporary novel. The vibrancy the beautiful cover promises is not immediately apparent. In ways, this novel reminds me so much of Kirsty Eagar’s Raw Blue, a story that may have been centered on a horrific moment but still celebrates the lighter moments in life while balancing tough consequences and decisions.

So even if I didn’t necessarily understand Kiri’s actions all the time — they were legit insane out-of-control — they felt like authentic reactions to when your life is turned on its axis and spun and spun until you are so dizzy… nothing looks right anymore. I hoped for Kiri to find some peace, to find a friend, learn to hold true to her memories and not let them be tainted by the events of this summer, and, most importantly, come to terms with what she wants for herself.

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July 5, 2013 - 12:04 am

Review: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith | books, etc. - […] Estelle from Rather be Reading says buy it! […]

May 5, 2013 - 11:34 am

Estelle's Shelve It >> Cinco de Mayo Books, Estelle - […] Magan’s glowing review of Winger by Andrew Smith My EEE I’m so excited review of Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith A review of Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike, which came out this week. Magan’s exciting […]

May 3, 2013 - 11:21 am

May 2013 Young Adult Book Releases - […] Goodreads | Amazon | Estelle’s Review Description: […]

May 3, 2013 - 4:27 am

Laura @ the Booksmartie - I think this is the second good review on this book within the last 30 minutes that I read 🙂 And with every more review, I also get more curious. This book sounds really good – I like those deep, thoughtful contemporaries along with the fluffier, funnier ones :)Great review, by the way!

May 2, 2013 - 6:03 am

Lori - I really loved this book. It was so different from what you usually find in a YA contemp. I really can’t wait to read more form Hilary T. Smith.

May 1, 2013 - 10:44 pm

Lisa Schensted - Gah – this one just keeps coming back on my radar and I’m like OH YEAH I NEED TO READ THIS.

I love that the main character doesn’t always make decisions or respect, but the fact that they feel authentic surely makes it ALL worth it.

May 1, 2013 - 10:08 pm

Courtney @ Courtney Reads A Lot - Ahhhhh!!! So many amazing releases this month! I’m like freaking out with excitement! I’ve heard such great things about Wild Awake and I’ve really been looking forward to it. But I’m still torn as to whether or not I should pre-order it. I feel like Hamlet. Should I? Shouldn’t I? I already pre-ordered The End Games and The 5th Wave. Hmmmm…your review is definitely persuading me to pre-order it. Sorry, I babble. Great review! 😀

May 1, 2013 - 6:59 pm

elena - MUUUURDER? QUE?!?!

this sounds like an intense rollercoaster ride. i am very excited to read it and get sucked in. i really liked this review btw! like the comparison to edgar allan poe made me even more excited for this book and this feels like a different sort of review for the book.

May 1, 2013 - 10:59 am

Alexa Y. - It is incredibly obvious how much you loved this book – and I love that! It makes me so excited to (eventually) get a copy of this one, and devour it. I’m pretty darn sure that I’m going to love Kiri a whole lot, and her story sounds INCREDIBLE (even with all its twistiness). Wonderful review E!

May 1, 2013 - 10:58 am

Rachel - Great review as always! I am so loving this book right now. I think Kiri might be one of my favorite YA characters ever because I get her so much. I kind of feel like I’m reading about teenage me, or at least getting in the mind of who I was as a teenager. Wild Awake is definitely different from anything I’ve ever read, which makes it even better.

May 1, 2013 - 10:27 am

Cassie - I LOVE WHEN YOU LOVE A BOOK. It makes me so much more excited for it! 😀 And I’m hoping this is a story where the MC DOES get to see what she wants for herself, and not others, cuz those are the best!

May 1, 2013 - 10:00 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Wait. What in the world. I think I have this as an egalley and I still haven’t read it!?! This is another great review for this book so clearly I must get to it soon!!! I am SUPER interested and I’m glad it’s not your typical contemporary. It sounds like something that that will totally catch my attention! Can’t wait to start reading it!!

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