Wild Awakeby Hilary T. Smith
In Wild Awake, Hilary T. Smith's exhilarating and heart-wrenching YA debut novel, seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd has big plans for her summer without her parents. She intends to devote herself to her music and win Battle of the Bands with her bandmate and best friend, Lukas. Perhaps then, in the excitement of victory, he will finally realize she's the girl of/b>
In Wild Awake, Hilary T. Smith's exhilarating and heart-wrenching YA debut novel, seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd has big plans for her summer without her parents. She intends to devote herself to her music and win Battle of the Bands with her bandmate and best friend, Lukas. Perhaps then, in the excitement of victory, he will finally realize she's the girl of his dreams.
But a phone call from a stranger shatters Kiri's plans. He says he has her sister's stuff—her sister, Sukey, who died five years ago. This call throws Kiri into a spiral of chaos that opens old wounds and new mysteries.
Like If I Stay and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Wild Awake explores loss, love, and what it means to be alive.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)
- Age Range:
- 14 Years
What People are saying about this
“Hilary T. Smith’s absorbing debut whispers with mystery, drawing us into a world of dead sisters, family secrets, midnight bicycle rides, music, madness and art—ultimately exploring that most profound mystery of all: love.”
Meet the Author
Hilary T. Smith lives in Portland, Oregon, where she studies North Indian classical music and works on native plant restoration. She is the author of Wild Awake.
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You will either love WILD AWAKE or you will not. There is very little in-between with this one. Fair warning. A lot of readers have been confused by the way events play out, while others embrace the way debut author Hilary. T. Smith is able to portray a teen mentally spiraling downwards out of control. WILD AWAKE depicts her journey in a way not often seen in novels, and the writing style may not be for everyone. The book centers around Kiri, a girl left home alone for the summer while her parents go off on a cruise for their 25th anniversary and her brother stays at college for a lab internship. She doesn't mind being alone, and often hangs out with her best friend Lukas, a guy she's secretly in love with. They're in a band together and spend a lot of time practicing for Battle of the Bands and getting stoned. Kiri is also preparing for an up-and-coming important International Young Pianists' Showcase. She plans to spend her summer doing these two things. She doesn't expect to receive a telephone call from a man telling her to come pick up her dead sister's stuff before it's too late. She begins spiraling downwards, especially upon finding out the truth behind her older sister's death that her parents kept hidden for so many years. She idolized her sister when she was little and can't comprehend the new information. With no one in the family home to guide her and offer a shoulder to fall back on, Kiri is sucked into her own head and lets go of everything she ever held important, sinking deeper and deeper into her newfound grief even as she opens herself up to new experiences. True Story : The memorable icon used for The Intern's blog Hilary T. Smith was on my radar long before WILD AWAKE was a book. I used to follow her blog The Intern when she was still posting anonymously. I remember seeing her open up about getting a book publishing deal, revealing the truth behind her identity. And then...I forgot about it. I was re-introduced to WILD AWAKE when Jamie from The Broke and the Bookish fell in love with the title. I was intrigued all over. It wasn't until I went onto the author's website after reading the book myself that I realized that this was The Intern's book I'd heard about back when. I laughed at myself! Smith is able to portray grief and the way it breaks a person so well. Kiri is utterly destroyed upon finding out the truth behind her sister's death, and it truly affects her well-being. Because her parents and older brother are away, there's no one to help her through this tough time for far too long. When someone is there, it's been far too long. For this reason, many readers may find themselves perplexed because the story dissolves. Everything is from Kiri's persepective, however, and we continue to see the world through her eyes...and Kiri can no longer see clearly. She no longer sleeps and relies too strongly on mind-altering substances, but can't comprehend how much she's changed. Smith is a pro at taking readers through madness in a way I haven't experienced since Libba Bray's perplexing Printz winner GOING BOVINE. It's incredibly realistic and raw, and Smith has a beautiful way of wording sentences and phrases that make you want to cling to them before they dissipate from the page. WILD AWAKE is full of pivotal moments that come from growing up: Making mistakes, finding love, discovering yourself, and learning to let go. Many teens rebel and learn life lessons the hard way; Kiri is no exception. Her journey is messy and never easy, but if you're willing to embrace the experience, Smith's debut novel is one wild ride.
Promising young pianist Kiri receives a mysterious call about picking up her sister's things - her sister who died in a car accident five years before. This leads her into a perilous journey in which discovers her sister's death wasn't what she was told. She idolized her sister, and the revelation traumatizes her. She might've gotten through that okay if she had support, but her parents, off on a cruise, refuse to talk about it, and at the same time she has the challenge of preparing for the high-pressure International Young Pianists' Showcase, along with another performance at a Battle of the Bands. She's torn up and can't sleep, and she soon slips into manic episodes. What the author does so well is chronicle her descent from within. Just like Speak, Ordinary People, and Catcher in the Rye, all of which document the effects of grief and trauma, the novel deals with an internal struggle as the onset of her mania sends her spiraling out of control. That's what so heartbreaking - to see her struggle so hard to do good, to fulfill everyone's expectations and perform her best through endless practice, and yet the piano she's devoted so many years to, which she has seen as her fortress she can escape into, is suddenly no shelter at all. But it does give her a gift to share, in that she can play keyboards and connect with another musician. Her keyboard may be in pieces, but in that brokenness she tries to persevere. The writing throughout is very well done, and like the cyclists in the story who meet up at midnight and cruise through the city, there's buoyant heights and plummeting descents. It's not a story for everyone or a conventional teen romance, but that's what drew me to it, along with the quirky characters, the humor, and the gritty realism of her journey.
Seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd has the entire house to herself while her parents are on a six-week cruise. Kiri expects to have a tame but Serious summer spent Focusing on Her Art. She has a rigorous practice schedule for her piano repertoire for the Student Showcase. She has important things to discuss with her bandmate Lukas as they prepare for Battle of the Bands (like all of the reasons they can be Serious about the music AND date!). Kiri's quiet and Serious summer is completely derailed with one phone call. Kiri expects retrieving her sister Sukey's things will be simple. How can it be anything else? But nothing involving her older sister is simple. As Kiri retrieves her possessions and learns more about Sukey and her past, Kiri's carefully constructed world starts to fall apart in ways that are as devastating as they are beautiful in Wild Awake (2013) by Hilary T. Smith. Wild Awake is Smith's first novel. She was also previously the anonymous publishing blogger INTERN. You can find out more about Hilary T. Smith and INTERN's advice on her website. Wild Awake is simultaneously effervescent and heart-wrenching as Kiri struggles to make sense of her lingering grief and her own life in relation to it and her family. Filled with twists and turns, Smith weaves an exciting and surprising story about a girl trying to find her way without even realizing she was lost. While the story is lovely and ultimately quite satisfying, there is a lot of drinking and casual drug use as Kiri works through her conflicted feelings about Sukey and her life. This is apparent from the first page and it makes sense in the story even if it might not make sense for some readers. Because of that and the fact that Kiri reads (in some ways) as older than seventeen, this is definitely a book that skews older with potential for adult crossover (rather than younger with middle grade crossover potential). Smith's writing is luminous; Kiri is a heroine who burns brightly with wit and surprising insights. At the same time, the book is erratic and frightening as it shines a light on the dark places in Kiri's own psyche and her family's troubled history. Much like Kiri herself Wild Awake ricochets between moments of beauty and ugliness to create a book filled with excellent prose and memorable characters. Possible Pairings: The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison, Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach, The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
I put myself on the list at my local library and received a virgin, never read book. Whoo hoo. This book did not disappoint. I was enthralled with the story. I won't go into what its about, you can read other's reviews. The writing was excellent, and the story line of struggling with such grief and abandonment was very true to form.
While home alone when her parents are on vacation Kiri receives a call about her sister's "stuff," and is told she needs to come get it. Weird, really weird, considering her sister has been dead for 5 years. Kiri is a piano player with a supposedly really great future ahead of her, but she spends a lot of her time doing drugs (weed) and acting just downright crazy, going from a seemingly normal person to giving the term "cray cray" a whole new meaning. During all of this she meets Skunk, who has his own mental issues, finds out the truth behind her sister's death, deals with grief, secrets, and family issues, and finds love and acceptance where she least expected it. Wild Awake is something that is not going to appeal to everyone, but is more of an acquired taste. I have to say it is really different from anything that I have read, and while I didn't love it, I didn't hate it either. It just wasn't my cup of tea and I had a really hard time connecting with Kiri. I have seen mixed reviews, the majority of people either don't like it or they really liked it. My advice if you decide to read this, is to go into with an open mind and see where it takes you. You may love, you may not.
Loved the language, the way relationships are depicted, and the sharply drawn characters. The main character's mania struck me as completely in line with What It's Like without sensationalizing it. The author treats her characters with compassion and sensitivity while they self-destruct. I especially loved the moment when Kiri sees her former crush clearly even in the middle of her mania.