All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Wild Awake – Hilary T. Smith

on December 7, 2013

Wild AwakeWild Awake
Hilary T. Smith
Hardie Grant Egmont
2013, 375p
Copy courtesy of

When Kira’s parents take a long awaited trip overseas in the form of a luxury cruise, they have a firm idea of how Kira will behave and what she will get up to while they are gone. She will practice the piano for hours everyday, preparing for a Showcase. She will water all of the plants, go to bed at an appropriate time and take down messages. She will also spend a little time with Lukas, her friend and bandmate, preparing for the Battle of the Bands.

However, a phone call out of the blue sends Kira into a spin. The mysterious voice on the other end says that he has some of Kira’s sister’s things but that he cannot hold them much longer. If she doesn’t come and get them, they’ll be tossed away. Kira is stunned – her sister Sukey died five years ago in an accident and Kira has never really quite gotten over losing her older sister and idol. She makes a snap decision to bike across town to meet this person and collect her sister’s belongings even though a) she doesn’t know him or what he looks like and b) it’s a dodgy part of town. Also c) why has this person been hanging onto things for five years but only contacted the family now? Lukas thinks it’s a scam and she shouldn’t go but Kira has to. She has to see what, if anything, he really has of Sukey’s. She has precious little left of her sister and she wants to understand her.

Kira’s decision to go and see this man and find out what he has of Sukey’s and what he knows about her changes her whole life. She discovers that her parents have been lying to her for years. Sukey never died in an accident. What happened to her was far more tragic and violent than that. And Kira’s idealistic picture of Sukey’s own place, her ‘studio’ where she was working on her art couldn’t be more wrong. But if heading down there brings tragedy and a terrible awakening it also brings understanding and in some ways, hope. Kira falls in love….but not with Lukas. And it will be perfectly imperfect, just like the both of them.

This is one of those books where you expect a good story but the ride it ends up taking you on is so much more than that. It’s a brilliant and beautiful book, it went into unexpected territory many times and came out of it even better. Kira is such an interesting character, so well portrayed and so raw. She’s been grieving for her sister for so long and she finds out that her parents and her brother have betrayed her by lying to her about Sukey’s life and the way that she died. The reader can see Sukey more clearly as a very troubled young woman, into some probably dangerous things and attempting to grow up way too fast, rejecting the family life because of its rules and constraints and choosing poverty and freedom. Kira has an idealised version of Sukey and throughout this book the veil is slowly stripped from her eyes with every new thing she learns about her sister’s life and death. This doesn’t diminish her fierce love for her but it makes her realise that so many things as she thought she saw them, were not true.

As she negotiates all this new information, Kira enters an almost manic phase, unable to sleep for days. She practices her piano maniacally, developing new methods where she learns and plays entire pieces ‘inside her head’. This concerns Lukas’s mother who wants to look after her and thinks it’s wrong she’s been left alone in the first place and it’s clear that Kira’s brother, who turns up midway through their parent’s vacation, is worried too but he isn’t able to best express this and the two end up fighting more often than not. Kira’s piano teacher also lets her down in a way, unable to see that something is actually wrong with Kira and instead just questions her discipline, eventually dismissing her. Because we are in Kira’s head, all we see is her inability to see that this not sleeping and manic activity isn’t normal and her reaction to people that attempt to help her. Every time she attempts to ask her parents a question, they blithely change the subject and that was incredibly frustrating to read. She was so needing that information and even though their attempt to protect her may have come from a good place, it wasn’t helping her.

In the book, Kira meets a young man nicknamed Skunk who assists her a couple of times. When she first meets him, Kira is hooked on her bandmate Lukas who has insisted they not give into their feelings lest it ruin their musical harmony. Lukas is a sort of oblivious person, who doesn’t really seem to understand Kira or the impact that has had on her. Her relationship with Skunk comes on gradually and it’s clear that Skunk has his issues as well, which unfold as the book goes on. The two of them are perfectly imperfect together and I loved reading them negotiating their feelings and connection and how they reacted as each of their secret’s unfolded. They’re both so supportive of each other and even though they’re both resistant to help in their own ways, they manage to both claim small achievements, baby steps. I loved Skunk and Kira so much that I actually killed a fairy in this book (read the ending) to see if they made it through, something I don’t often do anymore.

I highly recommend this book for fans of gritty YA.


Book #311 of 2013



One response to “Wild Awake – Hilary T. Smith

  1. MidnightPageTurners says:

    This book sounds so great! I’m kind of in love with the mystery genre at the moment that is a little like this. Thanks for a great review!

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