{Review} WILD AWAKE by Hilary T. Smith

O P E N I N G   L I N E:
IT'S THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER, and I know three things: One, I am happy. Two, I am stoned. Three, if Lukas Malcywyck's T-shirt was any redder, I would lean over and bite it like an apple.
(pg. 6, US e-book edition)

You will either love WILD AWAKE or you will not. There is very little in-between with this one. Fair warning. A lot of readers have been confused by the way events play out, while others embrace the way debut author Hilary. T. Smith is able to portray a teen mentally spiraling downwards out of control. WILD AWAKE depicts her journey in a way not often seen in novels, and the writing style may not be for everyone.

The book centers around Kiri, a girl left home alone for the summer while her parents go off on a cruise for their 25th anniversary and her brother stays at college for a lab internship. She doesn't mind being alone, and often hangs out with her best friend Lukas, a guy she's secretly in love with. They're in a band together and spend a lot of time practicing for Battle of the Bands and getting stoned. Kiri is also preparing for an up-and-coming important International Young Pianists' Showcase. She plans to spend her summer doing these two things. She doesn't expect to receive a telephone call from a man telling her to come pick up her dead sister's stuff before it's too late. She begins spiraling downwards, especially upon finding out the truth behind her older sister's death that her parents kept hidden for so many years. She idolized her sister when she was little and can't comprehend the new information. With no one in the family home to guide her and offer a shoulder to fall back on, Kiri is sucked into her own head and lets go of everything she ever held important, sinking deeper and deeper into her newfound grief even as she opens herself up to new experiences.

True Story :

The memorable icon used for
The Intern's blog
Hilary T. Smith was on my radar long before WILD AWAKE was a book. I used to follow her blog The Intern when she was still posting anonymously. I remember seeing her open up about getting a book publishing deal, revealing the truth behind her identity.  And then...I forgot about it. I was re-introduced to WILD AWAKE when Jamie from The Broke and the Bookish fell in love with the title. I was intrigued all over. It wasn't until I went onto the author's website after reading the book myself that I realized that this was The Intern's book I'd heard about back when. I laughed at myself!

Smith is able to portray grief and the way it breaks a person so well. Kiri is utterly destroyed upon finding out the truth behind her sister's death, and it truly affects her well-being. Because her parents and older brother are away, there's no one to help her through this tough time for far too long. When someone is there, it's been far too long. For this reason, many readers may find themselves perplexed because the story dissolves. Everything is from Kiri's persepective, however, and we continue to see the world through her eyes...and Kiri can no longer see clearly. She no longer sleeps and relies too strongly on mind-altering substances, but can't comprehend how much she's changed. Smith is a pro at taking readers through madness in a way I haven't experienced since Libba Bray's perplexing Printz winner GOING BOVINE. It's incredibly realistic and raw, and Smith has a beautiful way of wording sentences and phrases that make you want to cling to them before they dissipate from the page. WILD AWAKE is full of pivotal moments that come from growing up: Making mistakes, finding love, discovering yourself, and learning to let go. Many teens rebel and learn life lessons the hard way; Kiri is no exception.  Her journey is messy and never easy, but if you're willing to embrace the experience, Smith's debut novel is one wild ride.

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

Vibrant and fun! I love the colors. It's a perfect mix of orange, yellow, and purple. I love these contrasting colors. I also love the dark silhouette of the model against all that bright. 

The splash of paint for the author's name is both fun and a symbol of the novel, too. 

The zaniness of the model is also very reflective of main character Kiri. You want to know what's going on when you see this. 

This cover embodies WILD AWAKE so well!

I'm also a huge fan of the way the interior design reflects the cover so precisely:

From the way each chapter heading reflects the paint splatter emphasizing the author's name on the cover to the way the first part of the sentence emulates the cover's title, everything reminds me of this design. I love when books have great interior art!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Hilary T. Smith
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins
Received: For Review

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.


  1. I want to read this one. I didn't discover Hilary until after she was no long anonymous, but once I did I knew I'd want to read her book. Thanks for reviewing it.

  2. Sounds like I just found my new book for beach reading :D


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