Magan: Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker

book cover of wildflower by alecia whitaker

Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker (twitter | website)
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 320
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: strong sibling relationships, female country singer, singer-songwriter
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Discovered in a small honky-tonk bar on the evening her father cannot lead their family band, Bird is quickly pulled into the singer/songwriter world. Her brothers, Dylan and Jacob, work through feelings of jealousy and abandonment, while her parents try to keep Bird grounded and safe. Bird works through all her feelings as she jots down ideas for songs about the boy, Adam, she’s been pining for over many miles on the road with the Barrett Family Band.

In the midst of a family crisis, Bird’s family manages to survive by clinging to music; they each choose an instrument, and eventually the Barrett Family Band is formed because they become so passionate about playing. They ditch the traditional brick and mortar lifestyle and travel around the country living in an RV — mom, dad, Jacob, Dylan, and Bird. In addition to the covers they play, Bird is a writer and occasionally they incorporate her songs into their set list. One fateful evening, Bird’s dad, Judd, is too ill to sing and lead the band so he asks Bird to step up and do so. Despite her initial nerves, she delivers a brilliant performance that attracts the attention of a big-name label, thus beginning the whirlwind experience of being signed and finding peace after feeling she’s abandoned her family band.

Bird is a typical sixteen-year-old-girl with a unique name and affinity for playing the fiddle. She’s close to her parents and siblings thanks to living in such close proximity to them in the RV; they’re her supporters and best friends. But that doesn’t mean they easily accept the big things that start to happen for Bird and they feel like their lives are set aside. And that doesn’t mean that when she starts to feel like she’s got a career she’s always accepting of the decisions her parents make on her behalf (because she feels she should be given some say-so). It does mean, however, that she’s got a pretty serious crush on a boy, Adam, who is a solo act they frequently see on the road (and oh, one of her brother’s best friends).

That she just so happens to have written a song about.

Bird is linked to a big songwriter, Shannon, who helps her learn how to better craft her songs into hits; Shannon’s daughter, Stella, quickly becomes one of Bird’s closest friends and was one of my favorite aspects of Wildflower. While Bird’s home life seemed very strong, I enjoyed the development of these friendships that were separate of her family. They demonstrated how Bird was a bright girl with a blossoming career, but showed how she was a young girl who needed her best friend’s help responding back to text messages from Adam or someone to complain to when her new career became overwhelming. (Because God forbid she complain at home and her family think she didn’t want the success or opportunity.)

Whitaker nailed the flow and pacing. My only complaint: I just wanted more. (Estelle even helped me search for news about a follow-up book.) The ending felt a little abrupt; there were a few situations with her record label and Adam that I felt were left hanging in limbo. Bird seemed to be working through a lot of emotions and trying to find her footing right before the book ended. Open-ended stories don’t bother me, but Bird seemed almost able to grasp where her career could take her and I wanted to experience that with her, as well as a bit of resolution. Wildflower cured my Nashville hangover (I’m addicted to the show — anyone else?) with every Bluebird, record label, honky-tonk reference. I flew through the pages and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of Bird’s whirlwind rise to fame.

But my one request: Alecia, I need more!

♥

Update: BEST NEWS EVER:

alecia whitaker confirms wildflower seriesrather be reading worth it iconAdd Wildflower to Goodreads | Buy from Barnes & Noble | Buy on Amazon

Open Road Summer: A Playlist + More Gushing

It’s kind of crazy when everyone in your timeline loves a book.

Like REALLY loves a book.

Normally, I would wait until later in the year to get to it. Wait for all the hubbub to die down. But with Magan texting me friendship quotes and after watching her vlog (a lot of times, I miss her), I knew I had to make it a priority. So on a weekend when I really needed to love a book, I brought Open Road Summer along. I expected to love the romantic interest a lot, sure, but I did not expect to fall head over heels for the friendship in this book. We should all be so lucky to know a connection like the one that Reagan and Dee share. It’s honest, it’s not always easy, but there is extreme loyalty — whether in action or silence — and they just get each other. It was the biggest highlight of Open Road Summer for me. (Seriously, all the quotes I wrote down were about Reagan and Dee and I just… cried so much during some of their scenes. I thought the book was incredibly powerful and well-done in so many ways.)

So it was an extra bonus that country music was everywhere in this book. While it wasn’t always this way, country is my favorite genre of music. It makes me feel full and happy, and I just love the way that the songs tell a story. It’s been about 10 years now (ahh) that country music has provided the soundtrack to many late writing nights, annoying commutes, brutal workouts, and even a few songs at my wedding. Not everyone in my life feels the same way about country, sadly, so I’m happy that I’ve met smart people like Cassie and Ellice throughout my book blogging who love it too! Since the three of us adored ORS so much, we teamed up to create a country soundtrack that reflects moments and feelings in the book.

Open Road Summer County Playlist

For me, I tried to focus on songs and musicians that don’t necessarily get a ton of play. (You know me with my “under the radar” everything.) And, truthfully, I thought soundtracking ORS would be so difficult or distracting but with so many emotions and great moments, it just felt like fun. Here are a few of my own contributions (and why I picked them):

“I Break Everything I Touch” by Jason Aldean: There’s a great song called “I Break Things” by Erika Jo but unfortunately it’s not available on Spotify.  But I think Jason and Erika’s songs describe exactly how Reagan was feeling in the beginning of ORS. She just couldn’t get anything to work out right.

“Famous in a Small Town” by Miranda Lambert: I used to love to sing this song in my car and I had to use it when thinking of how Dee’s life has changed since being a regular high school kid.

“Homemade Love” by Jessica Harp: Jessica Harp used to be in The Wreckers with Michelle Branch (oh my god, was that almost 10 years ago?!), and that’s how I got into her. It’s her only album but this song popped into my head as soon as I heard Dee and Jimmy’s backstory.

If you know country even a little bit, you could probably think of about twenty songs right off the bat to explain Reagan and Matt’s relationship. These were my top picks:

  • “Stop Drop + Roll” by Dan + Shay: their car ride.
  • “Cool Thing” by Rascal Flatts: just them meeting each other in the first place.
  • “There’s Where It Is” by Carrie Underwood: two people who did a lot of work to get to this point.

Jo Dee Messina’s “Was This My Life?” is so Matt’s life philosophy after what he’s faced in life. “Oh, we just get one ride around the sun / In this dream of time, it goes so fast.”

I think Ellice + Cassie will agree that the biggest challenge was finding a good friendship song. We need some female country singers to get on this! Perhaps the song to best fit Reagan and Dee’s friendship is “You Find Out Who Your Friends Are” by Tracey Lawrence.

When the water’s high / When the weather’s not so fair / When the well runs dry / Who’s gonna be there? /
You find out who your friends are.

On that note, that’s enough from me! Time for you to get listening!

We sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together! Be sure to head over to Cassie’s blog for a special guest + Ellice for more chatter about our playlist collaboration efforts! Hooray!

More on OPEN ROAD SUMMER: Magan’s vlog | on Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Befriended with Emery Lord