Monday, June 24, 2013

Wild Awake

Author: Hilary T. Smith
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Released: May 28, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No
Source: Library
Kiri Byrd is on her own while her parents are on a summer cruise. She'll be fine on her own, though her friend Lukas's mother doesn't think so. But Kiri is disciplined. She'll take care of the house, she'll practice her piano to audition for the Conservatory, she'll compete with Lukas in Battle of the Bands - and maybe she'll get Lukas to see her as more than a friend.

But all of that falls apart when a stranger calls to say he has her sister's stuff - her sister, who died five years ago. Against her better judgement, Kiri picks up the bag from this stranger. And there starts the descent into madness. Because suddenly Kiri sees the world differently, but no one except a random guy she met accidentally sees things her way.
I read this book in one sitting, my heart getting more and more constricted as I read it. Kiri is never diagnosed formally, but in an expert friend's opinion could be monomanic. She doesn't need sleep, she's hyper-focused on her projects, she acts recklessly and impulsively and she starts a deep relationship with a guy she knows nothing about. From a practical point of view, I was outraged at Kiri's parents for the way they treated her - always acting in her best interests, but stifling her to the point that she breaks down and succumbs to the illness hiding in the deep recesses of her mind.

But from an emotional standpoint, my heart just broke again and again, each time Kiri embarks on a new quest thinking that she discovered the secrets to the world but in fact is set on the path to her own destruction. I know a bit about mental illness, and Hilary T. Smith has said that she knows about mental illness personally, so I know that this book captures the thought processes of a mentally ill person so perfectly it made my heart ache.

By the way, ignore the blurb on the cover that says this book is about love. There's love, but it's so much more than that. While Kiri does fall in love with Skunk, even that relationship is about mental illness. This book is a brilliant look inside the mind gone wild, with all its exhilarating moments and devastating moments.

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