Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wild Things

Wild Things Wild Things by Clay Carmichael

Awards: Kirkus Editors Choice; ALA Notable/Best Books

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Zoe's mother has just died from a drug overdose. She's taken to the home of her Uncle Henry, whom she had never met before. Since Zoe had been taking care of herself her whole life, she has a hard time with trusting adults and following rules. But Henry, a heart surgeon turned artist, has a stubborn streak too. Together, they navigate through their new life with the help of friendly neighbors, the local priest, a mysterious boy in the woods, and an old cat who lives under the house.

This book started out really strong. I loved the developing relationship between Zoe and Henry and I think I wish the story had just focused on their journey. Instead, the book gathered new plot points with new characters along the way that really seemed distracting to me. There was a lot more than one interesting story to be told here, but none ever got as fully developed or resolved as I would have liked.

This book has some really sweet, poignant moments and fiery Zoe was a great protagonist. But she didn't come off as only 11 at all. (I've actually had an 11-year old foster sister and Zoe just didn't ring true.) While this book is shelved in juvenile, I would really hesistate to give this to any kid under the age of 12 and even then, only to a really mature 12. There are some heavy topics in this one including suicide, divorce, death, and drug abuse. Overall, I liked this book--there were flashes of brilliant writing with great emotion--but I was left wanting more in some parts and less in others.

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