Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just Another...Book Crush (#4): Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Just Another...Book Crush! is a monthly feature where I invite an author whose book I've recently reviewed and loved to write a guest post and share their three latest book crushes. It's a feature I'm starting mostly because I'm often very shy to approach authors, especially ones I admire, and also because I love reading guest posts since, more often than not, they convince me to pick up a book even when the reviewer cannot. 

Wild Awake is one of this years most highly anticipated debuts - and rightly so. I've grown to expect more from the Young Adult genre lately; more self-discovery, more poignancy, more truth. And in all those fronts, Wild Awake delivered fantastically. It's a novel unlike you've ever read before and I absolutely loved it. Which is why I am so excited to have Hilary T. Smith on the blog today to talk about her debut! :)
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.
With every push of my pedals, I can feel the map getting bigger, new squares and lines and landmarks appearing like new levels in a video game. ~Wild Awake

YA fiction often involves some kind of widening of the map. Harry Potter discovers Hogwarts. Katniss leaves her home in District 12 for the Capitol. Cam and Gonzo leave Texas to search for Dr. X. In WILD AWAKE, Kiri re-discovers her city, her family, and herself over the course of a modern-day underworld journey.

One of the hallmarks of leaving home for the first time—whether literally or metaphorically—is the vertiginous sensation of your world getting bigger. It's a dizzying feeling, a peculiar mix of intoxication and heartbreak: "You mean this was there the whole time?" Hidden within the rush of freedom is a peculiar ache of loss for the person you will never be again, the home that will never look the same now that you're seeing it in this bigger context.

For Kiri, this process takes place on her bicycle. For me, it happened on foot. I was fourteen when I started taking monster walks through the forest near by house, testing just how far my legs could take me. When I was eighteen, I hitchhiked around New Zealand alone. I went on long solo hikes in the wilderness and spent a week bartending in a coal mining town. I wasn't a very sophisticated teen in other ways—I rarely drank, didn't have a driver's license, and had never smoked pot—but I believed utterly in the power of my feet and my thumbs to push back the edges of my world.

For me, writing is a little like hitchhiking—the same mix of uncertainty and confidence, hunger and exhilaration. When you write a novel, you stumble on places inside yourself you didn't know existed. You slog through rain and mud and snow. But at the end of it all, your map of the world is that much richer, and you can never look at it in quite the same way again.

Just Another...Book Crush!

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
This book just floored me. I read it in one sitting, staying up until almost five in the morning. Every detail felt so real and so right—it's rare to find a book that is so believable.

2. All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry
This book doesn't come out until July, but it is going to be huge. Sarah McCarry is a dazzling writer. I don't even know what to tell you about All Our Pretty Songs, except that it involves music and underworld journeys and witchy floorboards and masked balls. Luscious!

3. The Way Of Zen by Alan Watts
I have a huge Alan Watts crush right now. He writes about Zen in a way that makes you put the book down and say Oh. Whoa. And he is full of mind-bending insights like this one: “You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.” Alan Watts would probably be my desert-island selection right now.

I really couldn't have said it better myself. For me, Wild Awake is such a powerful novel because of this widening of the map, both literally and psychologically for Kiri. Not only does she explore more places, but she discovers more about herself than she ever imagined, which makes this such a heart-felt story. Hilary, thank you so much for stopping by; I am so thrilled that Wild Awake is now out for other readers to discover and fall in love with.

In case you missed it, you can read my review of Wild Awake HERE. I generally dislike most of my reviews, even though I post them and know they're really not that bad, but this is one of the few I'm genuinely proud of.


  1. I already have All Our Pretty Songs on my wishlist and I absolutely can't wait to read it. (Gorgeous cover, btw) I also own Eleanor & Park, but I simply haven't found the time for it yet. I' reading more and more realistic YA lately, so I guess it's time.

    And I love that quote from Wild Awake, just love!

    On a side note, you're reading GRIMSPACE!!! Yes! Please, PLEASE don't give up on Jax! She is horrible at first, selfish, obnoxious, pretentious and about 17 other awful adjectives... a real anti-heroine. But you'll see so much growth from one book to the next. by the end, I actually named my cat after her. :)

  2. So I just found out that this book is set locally which makes me all sorts of excited to read it and see if I can figure out familiar places. I wonder if it is always raining in the book. Haha. Your review has convinced me eve more that I need to read this book.

  3. No! You can't dislike your reviews! They're amazing and I always look forward to reading them! :D

    Also, I love this feature. Such a great idea! And I'm guessing my copy of Wild Awake will arrive tomorrow and I'm SUPER excited! Cannot wait! I love the whole concept of widening your horizons without ever leaving your hometown. You discover new things about a place you thought you knew everything about, and also about yourself! That's wild, and, well, awakening! I'm gonna stop being lame! :P Great post!

  4. This post is amazing Keertana and Hilary. I love how writing can be such a difficult process, but after a hard slog the end result is always amazing. Also thank you for these great recs, I will be sure to add them to my out of control pile! :)

  5. Oh, I just love that the author says writing is a bit like hitchhiking because when it's done well, that's so true! I love it when a book envelops you so completely that you're absorbed in their world and pretty much believe it can all be true. As one who has notoriously professed disdain for contemporary fiction, I'm definitely adding WILD AWAKE, as well as her new favourites to my TBR! Thank you for sharing, Keertana and Hilary!

  6. Have I told you that I love this meme? Well I do. I haven't heard of any of these three books but they sound really great and interesting. Great post :)

  7. I'm pretty certain that I want to read Wild Awake now. I still don't know if I am in the right mood for it, but it's definitely going on the list for later. I also need to check out This Song Will Save Your Life! I've been seeing it around a lot lately and the cover is amazing. Thanks for sharing! :)

  8. What a beautiful post this is! It makes me love this book even better, and WILD AWAKE is definitely one of my favorites of the year. I need to look up All Our Pretty Songs, because I don't know anything about it, but it sounds wonderful.

    LOVE This paragraph: "When you write a novel, you stumble on places inside yourself you didn't know existed. You slog through rain and mud and snow. But at the end of it all, your map of the world is that much richer, and you can never look at it in quite the same way again." Such a beautiful phrase from an author who moved me this year.

    Thank you for continuing to do these posts, K!


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