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Wild Awake Hardcover – May 28, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062184687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062184689
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–Ever since Kiri Byrd was 12, the only thing she had known about the death of her beloved, yet troubled older sister was that it was accidental. Her parents hadn't even let her go to Sukey's funeral and they certainly never wanted her to talk about her feelings. And so rather than grieve for her sister properly, Kiri threw herself into playing piano. She was the dutiful daughter, causing her parents no unnecessary stress or disharmony. But five years later, Kiri still isn't okay. When her parents leave her alone for six weeks to take an anniversary vacation, Kiri doesn't realize just how much her sister's death has affected her until she receives a mysterious phone call. She discovers that Sukey was murdered. Unsupervised and vulnerable, she quickly spirals out of control–smoking pot, practicing piano for days without sleep–as she learns exactly what happened to the sister she idolized. In this exquisite debut novel, Smith adeptly captures the darkness and betrayal of a family secret. Kiri's narrative is heart-wrenching as she confronts her grief and acts out her frustration at her parents for not only lying to her all these years, but also for abandoning her when she needs them most. The story is beautifully written and engaging, and Kiri's voice is a powerful reminder that life can be full of pain and joy and that to embrace both is good for the soul.–Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd is home alone for the summer while her parents are off on a cruise. Pretty early into her solo tenure, she discovers that her beloved sister, Sukey, wasn’t killed five years ago in a car accident, as she had been told, but was murdered. The experience of dealing with the shocking truth causes her to tumble into a downward spiral, and Kiri’s mental state is alarmingly called into question. She’s a serious musician, preparing for the Young Pianists’ Showcase, which means dedicated practice—but soon she’s not sleeping and manically playing at 5 a.m., while her thoughts go “loud and then normal again.” Through her relationship with Skunk, who suffers from mental illness, Kiri realizes she might be having her own psychological problems, or a “Thing.” 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. And even though the reader may fear for Kiri, she is unabashed in how she lives her life, and it’s both exhausting—and exhilarating—to watch. Grades 9-12. --Ann Kelley

More About the Author

Hilary Smith was born in 1986. She grew up in Canada and received a BA in English Literature at the University of British Columbia. Her adventures with bipolar disorder began when she was in her late teens, when constant insomnia and crazy thoughts started making her life a little more "interesting". Now she lives somewhere on the West Coast of the USA (her exact home at any given time is subject to frequent changes, as her and her paramour tend to ramble around the country a lot in pursuit of their dreams).

Hilary wrote "Welcome to the Jungle" because it is the book she wishes she'd been given when she was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Any comments or letters from readers are welcome. Hilary can be reached at bipolarjungle@gmail.com.

Customer Reviews

It actually did keep me interested, but by the end I just felt that everything was left unresolved.
Dark Faerie Tales
It felt like a sloppy excuse to make sure Kiri’s mental state could go from bad to rock-bottom all the easier.
I had a ton of time to read on the 4th of July so I started WILD AWAKE…… And finished it that night.
Brittany // The Book Addict's Guide

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Su on May 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
With the weight of the expectations I placed upon its spine after declaring its synopsis to be one of the best I'd ever encountered, Hilary T. Smith's debut novel WILD AWAKE had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, it was more than up to the task. WILD AWAKE reminded me of the best type of our favorite and revered Aussie YA: it's whimsical and more than a little odd, but ultimately grounded in the solid reality of common emotions.

When a strange caller informs young pianist Kiri Byrd he has the remains of her dead sister's stuff--a sister who had been dead for years--Kiri's life turns upside down. Kiri struggles to piece together what she's learning about her sister, but doing so sets her on a crash course towards a breakdown, and only by acknowledging it can Kiri hope to live with it, to make it a part of herself.

WILD AWAKE has many strengths, one of which is its startling and beautiful prose. It startles you because Smith is, oftentimes, just noting in passing an everyday detail or thought--only she does so in a way that makes you pause and actually notice what you otherwise would not. The prose tinkles like water trickling over crystal. Its brightness combines with the darker undertones of Kiri's situation for a full symphony of bass emotions and soprano wonder.

From the start, Kiri as protagonist stands out. She is many things, has many identities--a serious pianist, a quipper; a dutiful daughter, a monomaniac--but she owns them all unabashedly, deliberately. Unlike other, forgettable YA protagonists who claim to be artists or rebels or whatever, Kiri doesn't say: she just is, and that makes her being genuine. She's unafraid to plunge herself into making mistakes, with the result that she gets more out of life than those who hang back.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sab H. VINE VOICE on May 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This one was nothing if not a wild ride. Fairly different from everything I've read before, this book is as fearless and reckless as its main character. Kiri was just a kid when her older sister died in an accident. Kiri's life is going well--she's in a band and her parents are on vacation for six weeks--until she gets a call related to Sukey's death. Then this exhilarating weird journey begins and yes there is a yummy boy who ends up being yummier with each page.

I wont deny it, my favorite part of the book was The Boy--Skunk. As much as I enjoyed Kiri and sadly, she reminded me a lot of my teen self, she scared me sometimes. The plot was so unpredictable, it was disconcerting. Not that it was a bad thing, it felt refreshing. It just seemed to change gears with every chapter, to the point where I had to re-read some parts. First you seemed to think it was about Sukey, then it seemed to revolve around Skunk, and then you realize, how could I be so stupid? This book is about Kiri, period.

Characters were vivid, the writing was strong and the overall plot was so weird and modern that it just felt like my cup of tea. Kiri is the kind of wild heroine you often read about from male perspectives or in sci-fi action books. So kudos to the author for bringing this strong whirlwind of a girl to realistic fiction. Strongly recommended for daring contemporary readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N Smith on October 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fun read all the way through. I was fully absorbed, and found myself thinking about the story all day. The story and the characters, while really out there, are totally realistic and believable. There were no boring or fake parts to slow down the reading. Wild Awake is on the young adult shelf, but I'm old, and I liked it. We did stuff like this in the 60s too, and the book reminded me of those wild times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. L. Bennett on September 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith is ONE OF MY FAVORITES THIS YEAR!! If you like vivid, dazzling prose that matches the energy the character exudes in all its frenetic and chaotic glory definitely give Wild Awake a chance. It definitely was a special novel to me and not at all what I was expecting which was a cute albeit a little emotional, straightforward contemporary novel about a sister finding out some secrets about her deceased sister. Sure, that's what it is about but it is SO MUCH MORE. If you loved The Sky Is Everywhere or the writing style of Aussie authors like Melina Marchetta, Cath Crowley etc I'd say you might like this, too!


OH MAN. This is easily one of my favorite reads of 2013 and I think it could be a pretty high in the most memorable FOR LIFE category. I can't stop thinking about it. I just keep longing to reread it so I can just absolutely lose myself in the beautiful prose (and of course Kiri's story). It's one of those books that made remember me why I love words. Hilary T. Smith just has this ability to just light them on fire and let them explode in my heart. It's got the sort of lyrical, dazzling prose that makes me dog-ear pages like mad. (dog-earing is my dirty little secret..shh).

It's not just that Hilary T. Smith's writing is something pretty. It's that she writes in a way that makes you FEEL everything. The writing matches the energy that Kiri exudes. It's chaotic, frenetic and sometimes deliriously mad. The writing in Wild Awake is vivid and definitely is more of in Kiri's head and just streams onto the pages from it. Everything Kiri feels is INTENSE -- her joy is so high and her sadness just plunges -- and that energy just pulses through you and holds you captive.
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