For What It's Worth

Friday, September 1, 2017

review: wild bird by wendelin van draanen


20170830_1006473:47 a.m. That's when they come for Wren Clemens. She's hustled out of her house and into a waiting car, then a plane, and then taken on a forced march into the desert. This is what happens to kids who've gone so far off the rails, their parents don't know what to do with them any more. This is wilderness therapy camp.

The Wren who arrives in the Utah desert is angry and bitter, and blaming everyone but herself. But angry can't put up a tent. And bitter won't start a fire. Wren's going to have to admit she needs help if she's going to survive.


In her most incisive and insightful book yet, beloved author Wendelin Van Draanen's offers a remarkable portrait of a girl who too a wrong turn and got lost--but who may be able to find her way back again in the vast, harsh desert. ~
Goodreads

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Review:
Wild Bird isn’t the first book I’ve read about a troubled teen being sent to a wilderness therapy camp but it is one of the better ones.

It’s hyper focused on Wren’s anger at what she sees as a betrayal and the incidents that led to her parents taking desperate action to save her. There’s no budding romance – no convoluted drama within the camp…just good old introspection and healing.

Wren is a very angry girl. She doesn’t take any responsibility for her actions as she falls in with the wrong friends. She does horrible things to her family like taking and dealing drugs, stealing, lying and destruction of property – all while never taking the blame.

It would be easy to dislike Wren but Draanen does a great job at showing how a disruptive move and changing family dynamic makes Wren vulnerable to this type of behavior. I saw a lot of my teen self in Wren. Her parents, while not awful – don’t really understand how difficult it is for her to change schools and live in the shadow of her perfect sister.

I didn’t agree with her actions but I understood where she was coming from and as an adult – I can empathize with her parents as well.

The Utah desert camp setting makes Wren learn to rely on herself, gain confidence, work with others and learn skills that will hopefully translate when she goes back home.

Like I said, there’s no big drama like girl’s fighting (in fact they are quite supportive even if they are at the different levels of progress), no boy riding in “to see the real Wren” and save her. She does all the hard work by herself.

This makes for a somewhat quieter novel but I liked that.

This was a short story that hits all the right notes without getting bogged down in a lot of unnecessary drama. It would be a great book for teens that are on that edge of anger and turning to the wrong sources for love and friendship – and for parents who are frustrated at their teens for *suddenly* lashing out. Wild Bird shows that actions/inaction has consequences but that there’s also a way out if you choose to take it.

25 comments:

  1. Wow. This one sounds pretty intense but I kinda like it. I've read a very cute book from this author and I really like her writing style. I'll sure to check this one out. Great review Karen :)

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    1. This is the first book I've read by her but I really enjoyed it so I would definitely read more by her.

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  2. I haven't read a book with a story like that but it sounds really good.

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    1. I've read a few but there always ends up being girl drama or a romance that fixes everything or worse - woo woo therapists with wacky cures or abusive therapists.
      It was a nice change of pace.

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  3. No boy to save her and no girls fighting? Awesome

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  4. Sounds very cool! Thank goodness for the lack of girl drama. Not a fan of that. LOL Glad you enjoyed it. ~Aleen

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    1. Yeah, me either and it's the first book of it's type that I've read that didn't have any and that lacked a romance.

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  5. Huh this sounds pretty good. I love that it's drama- free and no boy rides in , like you said, to help her "find" herself. Instead she has to do it herself.

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    1. There's the drama of what led her there but once she's there it's all about the consequences of her actions and learning to face them. On her own! lol

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  6. I like quiet books and the sound of this one. It is totally new to me but I need to add it to the TBR. Great review!

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    1. I've heard good things about the author and want to try her other books as well. Loved the writing.

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  7. This sounds like a great read. I glad it's not one where a boy comes to the rescue and is the reason for it all instead it's girls doing it for themselves. The MC learns and struggles and it's way more satisfying to read. Great review.

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    1. Me too!!! It's so refreshing too. I've read several survival/rehab boot camp stories that are ruined by an ill fitting romance.

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  8. I kind of love that there wasn't a romance, that Wren learns to rely on herself instead of changing because of an outside force. Sounds great!

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    1. It really works here. There's enough going on and a romance would have detracted from her healing.

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  9. Ohhh a book with no girl drama, and without a romance that "saves" her??? Yes, please. I'm getting tired of both of those tropes. Great review!

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    1. It was refreshing to see them learn to work together and support each otehr rather than sabotaging like so many of these stories do.

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  10. Glad to hear that Wren wasn't an unlikable character with all the anger/behavior issues she had. I do love romance so it's a little disappointing to hear there wasn't one, but it sounds like the story didn't suffer for the lack of one. Wonderful review, Karen! :)

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    1. She was bratty sounding but it worked without you hating her - which is hard to write!

      I do love my romance but I think it would have detracted from her story. There is a cute boy :-) Just not a romance lol

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  11. This sounds like a super tough read Karen, I'm not sure whether it would be my sort of read, but I'm glad that you were able to enjoy it nonetheless! Great review!

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    1. It was a tough topic but it didn't feel like a *dark* issue book at all. She's mostly moving ahead to a healthier lifestyle. It was quite different from most of the rehab/camp books I've read.

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  12. I love the sound of this Karen. All too often YA tends to use romance as a saviour for troubled teens or illness and I appreciate that it doesn't rely on the love cures all trope. Sometimes I find it hard to remove that adult hat when reading about wayward teens in fiction, I think that mothering instinct kicks in and has me internally shouting 'what are you doing child'. I'd love to give this one a read too though, it sounds quite and sincere which I really enjoy. Great review Karen <3

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  13. A quiet novel is a good palate cleanser especially after an intense streak. It's also a great change, girls not fighting. Some authors tend to use that too often especially in YA.

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  14. Is this the same author who wrote Flipped? Because I loved that book! This sounds like an intense, powerful read -- and I'm relieved to hear that there isn't any superfluous drama.

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