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Wrecker: A Novel Hardcover – February 15, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

New Mexico author Wood follows Arroyo with this affecting novel about the rearing of a lovable boy named Wrecker (for his destructive tendencies), who carries the scars of being abandoned at age 3 when his penniless, clueless mother, Lisa Fay, went to prison for drugs. It's early 1969 when Wrecker's uncle, Len, whose wife is brain damaged from an infection, becomes aware of the heft of his guardianship responsibilities as he cares for Wrecker at the Bow Farm hippie commune on the Lost Coast section of Northern California. To "help him go forward," the eccentric residents--young, no-nonsense Southern belle Melody; plaid-clad mother-hen Ruthie; and independent, "short and furry" Johnny Appleseed--of this unconventional cloister take Wrecker into their collective arms. Wrecker is confused and troublesome, and over the years often runs away, but eventually comes to appreciate his alternative family. Complications emerge with a hasty adoption, Len's wife's pneumonia, Wrecker's burgeoning adolescence, and his estranged mother's eagerness to reclaim her teenage son when she's released from prison after almost 15 years, just as Wrecker might be moving past his need to reunite with her. Wood (who was inspired by her own fostering experiences) succeeds with surefooted prose; a lush, earthy California backdrop; and a sensitive story of nurturing and family. (Feb.)
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Opening Wrecker is akin to unwrapping a gift wrapped with great care. You don't know what is inside, but you know it's something special. Summer Wood, in her second novel, delivers a rare treat in this story of a boy and his mothers. It unfolds along a deliciously unpredictable path, one that can and should be savored. (Denver Post)

[An] affecting novel... Wood succeeds with surefooted prose; a lush, earthy California backdrop; and a sensitive story of nurturing and family. (Publishers Weekly)

A sweet adoptive-home story with extra heart and lovingly flawed characters, this second novel by Wood will find its home with fans of Jo-Ann Mapson and Pam Houston. (Library Journal)

Wood moves her characters gracefully through trying times, both cultural and personal. (Kirkus Reviews)

A page-turner…a literary exploration of how love breaks us and heals us...told in highly crafted prose that wastes not a word and is infused with sensitive insight. Wrecker is an unforgettable novel. (New Mexico Magazine)

Summer Wood's remarkable novel carves its way, sentence by gorgeous sentence, into the great complexity of love and family and community. Her dialogue is so natural and full we feel as though we are illicitly eavesdropping on these complex, flawed, and full-hearted characters. Wrecker is a tender, stunning novel. (Meredith Hall, author of Without a Map)

Wrecker is a wonderful portrait of a California long lost, but still alive here. Wrecker will wreck your heart and then put it back together again, with the big heart of a chosen family. (Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon and Take One Candle Light a Room)

This novel is a love song to well intentioned, wholly dedicated, and deeply flawed motherhood. Summer Wood creates more than just a great story, deftly, elegantly, and intricately told. She broadens both our notion of family, and our appreciation for whatever we call our own. Wrecker is a big-hearted, big-loving compassionate book. (Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness)

Well, I've been Wreckered. Drawn in, delighted and devastated by one small boy and the people who love him. Summer Wood has a keen eye for place, and for the ordinary moments in life that become extraordinary in memory. Here, she aims that astute eye on a ragtag group living on the outskirts of society, each member pulled into the same orbit by the centrifugal force that is Wrecker. This book is a fierce and unapologetic celebration of life, a lesson in nurturing, and a reminder of the work it takes to get the real loving done. (Barb Johnson, author of More of This World or Maybe Another)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608192806
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608192809
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,250,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Hutchins on March 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A couple of years ago, I asked a colleague who is a book reviewer: "Can you suggest a book you think I will love?" I read a lot of contemporary fiction, and I certainly like much of it but it seems that books I love are rare finds. Summer Wood's novel is one of them. I simply loved this novel, for its language, yes, for its subtlety, yes, but mostly for its story. We're a reading populace hungry for story, and this book met my needs. I found myself torn between wanting to read quickly for the story and slowly to appreciate every small part. Not only does Wrecker offer a marvelously real place, a community, that you'll wish you could be a part of in spite of its realistic flaws, but it makes you care about each vivid character deeply. Here's a measure of that success: late in the book we meet a new character, a rival mother who could disrupt everything we've grown to value. It's a reluctant meeting, a natural desire to push the character away. But within two paqes that changes. And when this character wins our caring, the complexity increases. You must read this book, savor it, share it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Adams on February 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I received an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my review when I finished it and to be honest, I didn't expect to like it. I felt like I couldn't relate to a story about foster care and adoption. I don't have a single personal experience dealing with either one of those things.
It didn't matter.
Wrecker is a beautiful book about a young child (named Wrecker...yeah, it takes place in the late 60's) who's mother loses custody of him after getting caught up in drugs (and other things, but I'll try not to spoil the plot.) She's sentenced to 30 years of prison, not eligible for parole for 15 years, leaving her 3 year old son to the foster care system. After bouncing around a little bit, Wrecker ultimately comes to rest with his mother's sister's husband, Len. Len has his own problems, however, since his wife (Wrecker's aunt) is brain damaged after a terrible illness, and is already more than he can handle. Not knowing what else to do, Len takes Wrecker to the three women who live next door. Wrecker ends up being raised, almost literally, by a village. The book details the wonderfully written story about his childhood, his early adulthood, and the experiences of the woman who ends up claiming him as hers.
The book is very entertaining from page one, and it never crosses the line into becoming too sappy or emotional. It also wasn't over-dramatic in its story-telling. I loved it, and I couldn't put it down. So glad that LibraryThing sent it
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jona Cannon on February 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
3 year old Wrecker is lost to his mother when she involves herself in crimes against society. Wreckers mother is in despair, and Wrecker is too young to understand why he has been taken from her. The system bounces him about for a while until he somewhat accidentally lands himself at Bow farm. The free spirited, tree huggin', hippies at bow farm all have reasons of their own for being in the remote region of Northern California. Taking care of an angry, undisciplined 3 year old boy was not in their plans. But life rarely listens to our plans.

I loved the realistic look at life as a hippie in the 60's and on. If only all children in such unfortunate circumstances, could find their way into a family with so much love and devotion. I use the term family loosely, but that it what this group of misfits become to poor little Wrecker.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wrecker, a novel by Summer Wood takes place primarily in the Mattole Valley in northern California from 1965 through the 1980's. It is the story of a commune called Bow Farm and of the people who live there, held together by their love of a boy named Wrecker who comes to them unexpectedly and grows to be the glue that keeps them all together.

One day in 1962, Lisa Fay, a homeless and strung out woman who got herself into some very bad stuff, gives birth to a son in a public park in San Francisco. She'd planned on a home birth but she had no home. For the first year of his life, Lisa Fay didn't even name her son, but then she decided on `Wrecker' because he seemed to get into everything and make a wreck. Wrecker's father walked out and Lisa Fay got herself involved in some drug and gun deals that went wrong. This cost her fifteen years in prison if she made parole.

After Wrecker turns three and has been in a series of foster homes, his uncle Len is located and he agrees to adopt Wrecker. Len's wife who was completely debilitated by a root canal that went to her brain is Lisa Fay's sister. Len brings Wrecker to Bow Farm and the people there take to him immediately.

There is Ruth, the homebody and cook who was saved from taking her own life several years ago. Johnny Appleseed plants trees and opposes the razing of the wilderness. He is pretty much a loner but fits in well at Bow Farm. Melody is one of the original founders of the farm and she falls for Wrecker in a big way, becoming his mother. She works in the local mercantile when she isn't caring for Wrecker. Willow is the other owner of the farm and she has run away from something that is eating her insides out. She is a weaver and works on exquisite and exotic carpets.
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