Wild Awake

Wild Awake

3.6 (3,767 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.6 (3,767 ratings by Goodreads)

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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.
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 384 pages
  • 140 x 210 x 31mm | 445g
  • United States
  • English
  • 0062184687
  • 9780062184689
  • 465,955

Back cover copy

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate, Lukas, will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won't be able to--
5. Sukey died five years ago; can't he--
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*Also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith's debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.
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Review quote

"Debut author Smith can craft a simile like no one's business, and her ebullient language drives this story, which captures moments of life at its highest and blurriest points: love, loss, music, freedom."--ALA Booklist
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Rating details

3,767 ratings
3.6 out of 5 stars
5 26% (997)
4 30% (1,119)
3 27% (1,002)
2 12% (434)
1 6% (215)

Our customer reviews

Kiri Byrd is the daughter parents can depend on. To water plants, to practice her piano and not to get into any trouble. And Kiri is fine playing the role because she’s convinced that her perfection is the only way to keep her family together after her older sister, Sukey, died in an accident a few years ago. But a strange phone call one night when her parents are away on a cruise leads to Kiri questioning everything she believes to be true. “It’s amazing how quickly the things you thought would make you happy seem small once you stumble on something true.” This book is both beautiful and bizarre. Kiri is in the midst of discovering things about Sukey, her parents and herself that she never even considered. It’s an emotional story with Kiri falling apart. Her sister may not have been the role model Kiri had on a pedestal and her parents dismissal of all thing Sukey may not have been the most healthy thing to do. Kiri is locked in a world where she lives in denial. Watering the azaleas and perfecting complicated piano pieces is the way she is holding things together. But when she finds out there’s more to Sukey’s death than she ever considered, Kiri is thrown – especially considering her brother and parents knew the truth all along. Kiri tries to hold on to the perfect life she’s living whilst at the same time starts to resent it. She’s beautiful in her confusion and reading her was a pleasure. Her awkwardness regarding love and sex was endearing to read and her passion – albeit slightly fanatical – for music was a joy. And then there’s Skunk. Have you ever heard a more attractive name for the hero of a story? Probably not. Skunk is one of those characters that I adored from the first time Kiri met him. “He’s huge. Hagridesque. A bulldozer crossed with a gorilla.” (page 21) Romantic, right? His relationship with Kiri is one based on friendship first and contrasts perfectly with the relationship Kiri has with bandmate Lukas. Both boys couldn’t be more different and they do a great job of representing Kiri’s perfect past and confused present. I loved the writing in this novel. If I were to underline my favourite lines most of the book would be marked. Kiri’s spiral downwards was oddly wonderful to read – one of those things that feel like they should be entirely uncomfortable were writing in a way that made me want to read more and anticipate how Kiri would react to the next bombshell in her life. Her relationships with everyone are declining and it’s awkward yet enticing. The ending wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I felt it was perfectly fitting for both the plot and the characters. I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did – the recreational drug use on page 1 nearly turned me off but this is so much more than a teenage stoner story. It’s an emotional and lovely debut novel with amazingly flawed characters and some beautiful prose. I adored this book and will definitely be looking out for more books by Hilary T. Smith.show more
by Kate @ Fictional Thoughts
Thank you so much to Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss for the eARC! This in no way affected my opinions of the novel. Wild Awake first came into my radar because of it's GORGEOUS cover. Because seriously, that cover made me salivate. All the elements came around together seamlessly and I give mad props to its cover designer, Tom Forget. Those were handmade splatters, guys. Plus, the color. I am absolutely not a fan of orange but this made me love orange. If you want to read an interview of Tom Forget by Hilary, go HERE! So aside from the cover, the blurb just got me so intrigued and interested. You're home alone and then there's a mysterious call about your dead sister. Plus the format itself of the blurb just makes you want to read it. So I requested Wild Awake over at Edelweiss and when I got approved, yippee! I wasn't supposed to read this at the time I read this (with my reading schedule and all) but insomnia called and I randomly started reading Wild Awake. Needless to say, I finished it the next day. (Yes, I still sleep. At times.) The novel started hilariously. I found Kiri's voice funny and a voice I loved reading. She was easy to relate to with her massive crush on Lukas and her constant daydreaming. However, Kiri's voice changed during the course of the novel. Once she slowly uncovered the unbeknownst details of the life and death of her sister, Kiri changed. Some might consider it a downward spiral but I don't completely agree. I'd say it was an unhealthy spiral. But giving way to this change were Kiri's beautiful thoughts and I'd say that's a good deal. Still, I missed the Kiri at the start but at least, her character grew. In fact, Kiri underwent a massive character development. Skunk, though not your typical male love interest and totally not your usual YA hero, was a hero all on his own. He had his own issues and back story and his imminent growth as a character had depth and was so worth reading. He's sweet in his own ways, cool beyond cool and definitely a unique character. I loved how Kiri and Skunk made each other grow and how they accepted each other as they are. They made the other also infinitely cooler if that's even possible. Wild Awake wasn't the novel I expected it would be and for that, I think I got a little bit confused. I went in thinking this would be a contemporary coming-of-age novel with a little mystery and yes, it is that but it was so much more. Maybe that's why I had a hard time rating this one. I initially thought of giving it four stars because it's good but then, as I always say, I'm an emotional reader and Wild Awake ended up not a perfect fit with my reading tastes. I didn't feel cheated, I just didn't think that there would be no structured plot. I thought there would be more mystery but in reality, Wild Awake focused on how Kiri dealt with the information she learned after that ominous phone call. Still, I haven't read a novel like this one. Beautifully written but in a prose some people might not like. Reading it is like reading straight out of an artist's mind, and the one who's manic about his/her art. Kiri is not a character who's easy to understand and to relate to but I found myself unable to stop reading. I wasn't too invested in her and the story but it was like I was hypnotized by the novel. Tons of quotable lines but there isn't a structured plot. There's an event and it chronicles everything that happens in the aftermath, with a resolution befitting of an indie film. It's dramatic and not. I know that's ironic but yes, this novel feels like an irony. A good one at that. I don't know how I really feel about it because I'm not tuned in with the characters but I admit its writing is exquisite. Not Delirium-like but gorgeous on its own. I will quote some here in my review. "Maybe we all need ships to hold our dreams, to be bigger and steadier than we ever could be, and to guard the mystery when we cannot, to keep it safe even when we have lost everything." "It's amazing how quickly the things you thought would make you happy seem small once you stumble on something true." "Did you see that guy in the back, from the radio station?' His smile is a jar full of fireflies. 'Crazy Girl,' he says. 'All I saw was you." "People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn't know were there, even the ones they wouldn't have thought to call beautiful themselves." See? So good. I especially love the last quote I featured. There are tons more of gorgeous prose in here but I wasn't able to note them. I suggest you go read it yourself and you will find gems. This will appeal to those who enjoy slice-of-life novels. It's real. It deals with murder, family, drugs, sex, friendship, music, art and meshes it into a tale of Kiri learning about her sister's murder and her eventual dealing with it. She meets people along the way and realizes that her life as she knew it flew out the window the moment she learned the truth about her sister. This novel is free-spirited, which I think lies mostly on Hilary Smith being one as well. Like the Tao, which is mentioned and used a lot of times here, this novel flows. To quote the Tao: "Words may be used to speak of it, but they cannot contain it. " And oh, why yes, I know The Way.show more
by Dianne @ Oops! I Read A Book Again
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