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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hilary T. Smith's intense and beautiful debut, Wild Awake, depicts a teen girl's descent into despair and mania after learning the circumstances of her older sister's death. The central character faces extreme emotional pain with little support, and acts out in disturbing ways, including manic behavior, and use of pot, alcohol, and pills to mask her grief. Another character suffers from severe paranoia and must be medicated to function safely. Two teens in a loving relationship engage in sexual activity, but there are no graphic descriptions of sex. There are, however, details about horrific violence, including blood and assault. And there's some strong language ("s--t," "f--k," "piss," "bitch," "ass").
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What's the Story?
Kiri is a passionate musician, who spends most of her time practicing piano in preparation for an upcoming competitive Showcase, and jamming with her bandmate, Lucas, to get ready for a Battle of the Bands competition. While Kiri's parents are away on an extended vacation, she gets a call from someone named Doug, who says he is holding possessions that belonged to Sukey, Kiri's sister, who Kiri believes died in a car accident. Kiri adored her sister and immediately sets off on her bike to retrieve Sukey's effects. Kiri then learns that her parents have kept secret the real story of Sukey's death. The information she receives sends Kiri into a spiral of pain, drugs, and a desperate need for understanding and solace.
Is It Any Good?
Kiri's sleeplessness, her drug-induced moods and personality shifts, her struggle to make sense of her sister's life and death are all so palpable, it hurts to read about her. But it's worth the heartache to experience the unfolding of this perfectly paced story, and the blossoming tenderness between the troubled couple of Kiri and Skunk. WILD AWAKE is a beautifully constructed and remarkably well-realized first novel.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Wild Awake compares to other novels that depict mental illness or grief. What others have you read?
Do you think Kiri's parents were right to shield her from the facts about Sukey's death?
What do you think Kiri does after the end of the novel?
- Author: Hilary T. Smith
- Genre: Emotions
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date: May 28, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 375
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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