3:47 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.
Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, to be published September 5th,
2017, via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
I hardly ever agree with blurbs, but here we go: Wild Bird is truly Wendelin Van Draanen’s most incisive and insightful book yet.
In the story, we watch Wren tell her story, wrestle with her demons, and come through alive. She’s stripped bare of everything she has until there’s nothing left but her thoughts and people who want to help her get better. I rooted for her as she struggled against her demons and won, even though every step of the way was a huge hurdle.
What really struck me, beyond the flawless flow and plot execution, was how Van Draanen chose to tell the story of an ordinary girl. I won’t spoil anything, but Wren got in with the wrong crowd because she was lonely and didn’t want to be anymore. Period, the end. While the setting of the book is foreign–I doubt very many of us reading have camped out in the desert, let alone been out in the wilderness for 50+ days–the themes and ideas are achingly familiar.
Like with Paperweight, I loved this story for its brutal honesty told in such clear and eloquent writing, for the way it pried apart suffering in the form of addiction and self-harm, for the positive message that came with getting help, and for the support network that the main character gained in the end.
Like with This Song Will Save Your Life, I became completely engrossed in the main character’s journey to find peace and healing in a new and unfamiliar environment. Neither Sales nor Van Draanen sugarcoats the heartache and struggle that their characters face. There are ugly parts and sad parts, and in the end, all it is is an honest story that makes you feel a little bit less alone in this huge world and gives you the desire to make others feel the same way.
Van Draanen is a great writer, that much is given, but I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this thought-provoking read. Because Wren is only fourteen when we meet her for the first time, stuck between her middle-grade years and YA years, we’re able to see her mature and grow into the person she’ll someday be over the course of the book. I felt that this one truly took advantage of its character’s situation in life, and I was impressed by how well everything came together. Overall, I loved the new approach that Wild Bird took to therapy and reconciliation, and I’ll definitely be recommending this one. 4.5 stars.