During a semester in the wilderness, sixteen year- old Sib expects the tough outdoor education program and the horrors of dorm life, but friendship drama and love that gets complicated? That will take some navigating.
New girl Lou has zero interest in fitting in, or joining in. Still reeling from a loss that occurred almost a year ago, she just wants to be left alone. But as she witnesses a betrayal unfolding around Sib and her best friend Holly, Lou can't help but be drawn back into the land of the living.
In this tender, funny story of first love, good friendship, and going a little bit wild, Fiona Wood introduces two unforgettable girls who discover that before you can be true to yourself, you have to figure out exactly who you are.
About the Author
Fiona Wood lives in Melbourne, Australia. Wildlife is her first novel published in the United States. She has worked as a screenwriter for more than ten years, and her first novel, Six Impossible Things, was short-listed for the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year (Older Readers).Wildlife won the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award (Older Readers) and has been short-listed for the Queensland Literary Award, the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, and the Ethel Turner Prize, and long-listed for the Gold Inky Award. Find Fiona online at fionawood.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"The only person you should be is yourself. You can't control perception. All you can control if how you treat someone else." Just before her term at her school's outdoor education campus, Sibylla unexpectedly winds up on a billboard advertisement near her school. She also kisses the super popular and super cute longtime crush Ben Capaldi. Lou is the unexpected new girl at school when the new term begins. She isn't at the school to make friends or to fit in. Mostly she just wants to be left alone and get by without having to think about her old friends, her old school, or the fact that her boyfriend Fred is dead. Sib thought going through a term of outdoor education at her school would be upheaval enough. But adding the billboard, the kiss, and her often rocky and now definitely changing relationship with her best friend Holly makes everything even more complicated. Lou thought a term in the wilderness would give her a chance to hide and grieve. Instead, she slowly finds herself drawn into the dramas of the girls around her like Sib and finds that she doesn't want to stay quiet as she sees a betrayal unfolding in Wildlife (2014) by Fiona Wood. Widlife is Wood's second novel. It is a companion set in the same world as Six Impossible Things and Cloudwish although it does function as a standalone and can be read without knowledge of the other titles. (For the most impact I do recommend reading these in order though.) Wildlife's narration alternates between Sib and Lou. Sib relates her story to readers in conversational prose while Lou's story is written in journal form--a coping mechanism suggested by her therapist as she transitions to a new school and out of therapy. While Sib spends a lot of the novel trying to make sense of her confusing relationship with Ben and Lou is mourning Fred, the crux of Wildlife is really the growing friendship between these two girls. Sib and Lou are unlikely friends and both are reluctant to take a chance on adding a new person to their lives. But in the wilderness where most of their coursework is about building strength and stepping outside of their comfort zones, both Sib and Lou realize it might be worth the risk to trust someone new. Wildlife is a thoughtful story about friendship, first love, and all of the complicated moments in between. Recommended for readers of contemporary novels, fans of humorous narratives with a lot of heart, and anyone who loves the great outdoors. Possible Pairings: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, Nothing But the Truth (And a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen, Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart, I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung, Kissing in America by Margo Rabb, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle, Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
AudioBook Review Stars: Overall 5 Narration 4 Story 5 If you read lots of teen / YA titles, you soon find yourself in a story that feels familiar: characters are so similar as to be clones, their romantic aspirations seem to rise no higher than a triangle, there are parental miscommunications, difficulties in school, and a large and overbearing sense of ‘persona’ being much more important than the person, at least superficially. This is where the Australian YA market has brought a change for the better to readers and fans of teen/YA titles everywhere. Each title that I have read from an Australian author has been pointedly different and special, with a unique perspective and solid voicing that often gets missed in the most popular titles out there. Fiona Wood brings us Wildlife, a story based on two year 10’s (that would be high school sophomores to those unfamiliar) and their navigation of a school term in a Mountain Wildlife camp – away from all familiar and comfortable ‘civilized’ amenities. Sibylla is the first voice we meet, and she is instantly engaging and easy to relate to. During break she had a ‘moment’ with Ben, the most popular boy in Year 10, and their kiss was recorded for posterity on a billboard. Now, what was a private and rather interesting side-note in her life is a public event: forcing her to reevaluate her position at school, in life, and really reestablish her own sense of self. "So the Earth must be spinning of it's axis by now, plummeting headlong towards a new universe, oceans sloshing and spilling, icecaps sliding, trees uprooted. Because somehow I've stepped over the line to stand with the popular girls. Only I haven't. The line must have moved without me realising." The second voice is that of Lou (who was introduced in Six Impossible Things) as the new girl in school, who is, by choice, desperately trying to isolate herself. "Now all I have to do is blend in, zone out and start crossing off the days on my cell wall". Lou is utterly isolated within walls of her own making: combining anger, grief, loss and utter frustration from a terrible loss that has shaken her to her core. She isn’t at all interested in the goings-on with her classmates or their social concerns, let alone the tentative and not so tentative dalliances with romance. These two perspectives are alternated as the girls first are embroiled within their own concerns, and gently spread out to encompass mentions and questions about one another as they start to form a friendship that is at first based only on proximity. Wood writes in a very conversational style, that brings emotion and understanding of the two characters with her beautiful phrasing and solid delineation of the two characters. Surprisingly, the voices of Sib and Lou are so distinct and unique that their personalities are clearly presented, and there is no difficulty in determining who is presenting a scene or perspective. With the added skillful setting of the world around them, Wood presents the story with vivid imagery and insets of family life, interactions and simple daily activities and gripes that will feel familiar to everyone. Narration in this story is provided by Candice Moll and Fiona Hardingham. Both narrators have lovely accents, one just slightly different from the other, and both wholly Australian, that will also clue readers/listeners in to the fact that accents in Australia are not all “Crocodile Dundee” and “Steve Irwin”. Both narrators give appropriate pauses, emotional emphasis and tone with deliveries that delineate the characters with ease, as well as presenting a sense of interior voices contrasting with conversations or retelling to others. Neither over-reach for emphasis or to make a point, the emotion and impact is evident in the words written on the page so handily by the author. Perfect for readers / listeners from age 12 and up, this story is incredibly well-written with plenty of moments to remember, showing teenagers as the wholly complex and complicated beings that they are, without delving into loads of stereotypical or generalized behaviors. Fiona Wood is sure to become a favorite of many readers. I received an AudioBook copy of the title from Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
A wonderful coming-of-age tale from Australia! “Wildlife” by Fiona Wood is a book about two vastly different girls coming together during a semester in a wilderness type camp required by their school. It’s set in Australia, and while the differences are strange at first, I thought it was fun to learn more about the life of teenagers there. The book is absolutely beautifully written, and takes many twists and turns that I did not expect at all. The two main characters, along with a secondary character (Michael), were so well-developed that your heart breaks when theirs do, and you laugh when they laugh. The mood is up and down with the story, ranging from sad to embarrassing to hilarious, and it makes the whole thing realistic. Speaking of realistic, there is a LOT of strong language and talk of sex in “Wildlife”. It fits with the story, and I love when authors are brave enough to write how real teenagers speak, but I did want to mention it in case anyone likes to avoid those types of things. The only reason I gave “Wildlife” four stars instead of five is because the ending felt somewhat rushed. It was a natural conclusion, but felt like it needed a couple of more chapters to make it seem less jarring. It was a bit like being on a pleasant drive and then slamming on the brakes. However, it is not anywhere near enough to ruin a wonderful book. I highly recommend “Wildlife”. This review is based on a complimentary copy given through Netgalley by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.