Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:
1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.
Things that actually happen:
1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.
Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy. – Goodreads
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this novel, but I did not get it. It was rough, it was gritty, it was almost impossible to read at points. Kiri Byrd is a girl whose sister died when she was 12. Kiri is in a band with her friend Lukas, who she happens to have feelings for. Their band is entered into a battle of the bands while Kiri is also practicing a big piano piece for an upcoming recital. During this time, her parents are out on a cruise and her brother is at college, but she has made it clear to the reader this is fine, she stays home alone all the time.
What isn’t fine is when Kiri gets a strange phone call involving a person who knew her sister. This escalates the spiral Kiri was already on. Her parents are extremely neglectful, her sister’s death affects her in ways she has never touched upon and now this stranger is calling saying he knew her sister and he has a box of her shit. During this time period, she has a falling out with Lukas, finds a new love interest and has an extremely dark time period in her life.
The problem I have with this book is not the typical problem I’ve seen in reviews. The problem I’ve seen in reviews is the heavy drug usage. That did not faze me because it suited the character. Hi, it’s pot usage, whatever. This part to the right made me LOL, mostly because I know that person.
But there was a deep, dark portrayal of not only her character, but those around her, including a new love interest, Skunk, that never really got handled. Plus, when her parents do come back they’re like “oh, yeah, we should have told you. MEH! LETS PUT YOU IN THERAPY BUT NEVER REALLY TALK ABOUT IT” The problem I ultimately have with the novel is that it didn’t leave me fulfilled. I left with more anger than anything else.
While I recommend this book, there are some strong reservations.
Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.
Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.
Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.
But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….
With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own– Goodreads
This is one of the It Books of 2013. I was thrilled when I snagged an ARC of it at ALA. Sadly, I could not get into this book. I did not devour it, I trudged through it. I read my friends’ reviews convinced that something would happen.
I never found that something.
Lynn’s whole life is about survival. Lynn has water. In her time water is a hot commodity. While she is supposed to fear for her life, because of the water she protects, I found it hard to care about her. I found the characters in this novel flat. While it is true, this is a story about survival, I spent most of the novel wanting to shake the characters into relatable ones. And maybe that is what McGinnis was going for, unrelateable characters in this time of warfare.
The book was a good reminder however about humanity and what one does when they are forced to. While it made me think, I continued to have problems enjoying it no matter how hard I tried. There were aspects I enjoyed. I think Lynn is a brilliant character. I think the world that McGinnis created is genius. It just fell flat for me. Maybe I’m no longer into dystopians?
Oh this book. Everyone loved and adored you. I know I should have. Really, I do. You were even published by an imprint I adore. Sadly, I did not adore you. At all. I struggled through this book when all the rest of my friends breezed through it. I felt like I was in school again. WHAT WAS I MISSING?! No really, what was I missing, will someone please tell me?