Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wild Awake, by Hilary T. Smith

Sunrise was at 5:50, sunset will be at 8:23. (I started this post last Thursday.  Today, a week later, these are the sunrise/sunset times: 5:40, 8:33. 20 minutes more sunlight in just a week!  Amazing.)

Hello, everybody! I hope you've all been well.

I've been busy with a new job, I'm one of the owners of Eagle Harbor Book Company.  I have an amazing, but long-ish commute, and more books to read than I can shake a stick at. Stacks of books hidden under a table in the living room, stacks circle the couch (each stack has a theme: cats, mental illness, superheroes, weather), and there's a room upstairs with shelves and tippy piles full of books I truly do mean to read.  I recently found some pretty furry books under the bed.  I walked around the house looking for a book I was reading, "I know I had it last night!  Are you sure you didn't see it?" and all along it, and the others pushed deeper under the bed when the next one slid to the floor, was under there, keening to be found and rescued.

Mmmm.  It's a warm and fuzzy problem to have.

The other day while I was in the Used Book Annex at the store, a young woman came in and asked if I was the manager and I said, Yes, yes, I was.  She handed me a book and said, "I'm one of your local authors and my book will be coming out soon.  Would you like a copy?"

She handed me a brightly colored book, said it was coming in May from Katherine Tegen Books and she hoped I'd like it.  I thanked her and said that I'd share it with the kids' and teen book buyer when I was done.  She thanked me and left!  Nice woman, and it was really great to get a chance to meet her and not be put on the spot about getting it put in the store.

So.  I sat down and read the first page and found a line that includes "...if Lukas Malcywyck's T-shirt was any redder I would lean over and bite it like an apple".  Can't you picture that?  In that first paragraph she completely lets us into who Kiri Byrd is and where she wants to be:  summer vacation, with Lukas, happy, stoned, and a lust-filled, music lover.  I had to finish two other books, all equally good in very different ways, before I could start Wild Awake, by Hilary T. Smith, and I've been consumed by it, just finished it over toast, peanut butter, and rhubarb jam.

Kiri Byrd is 17 and alone at home for 6 weeks while her parents are on vacation.  She's mostly responsible (well, there is the pot smoking) and studying for a major piano recital that could make or break her future.  One morning she gets a phone call from a man she's never met telling her to come get Sukey's stuff or it will be gone forever when the building she lived in is demolished.  Kiri is shocked. Sukey died 5 years earlier and there is much about Sukey she never knew.

This single moment in Kiri's life divides her life into two different worlds: before Doug's call about Sukey's stuff and after.  An embarrassing event with the boy she loves, the knowledge that no one trusted her with Sukey's secrets, an encounter with a boy who fixes bicycles and who is certain someone is following her, and the increasing stress of preparing for her concert leaves her slipping into episodes of odd and destructive behavior.  She's unable to sleep because of nightmares and starts a little self-medicating which only leaves her more and more disturbed. 

Wild Awake is good.  It's a good look at mental illness from the inside.  Kiri seems to have good reasons and good ideas and, from her point of view, what she does makes perfect sense.  As the reader, the insider to her world, we are witnesses to her spiral and there isn't anything we can do.

I'm looking forward to more from Hilary T. Smith!

(Katherine Tegen Books.  Ages 14 and up.  $17.99.  Available May 2013.)

(No remuneration was received for this.)

1 comment:

  1. hi rene! Hilary here. I couldn't find your contact info, but heard you wanted to get in touch. my e-mail is internspills [at] gmail [dot] com. thanks!