Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Author Spotlight: Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen - 5 stars

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 10:00 AM

Wendelin Van Draanen has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes series, and wrote Flipped which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ, and became a Warner Brothers feature film with Rob Reiner directing. Her novel The Running Dream was awarded ALA’s Schneider Family Award for its portrayal of the disability experience.

Van Draanen is also the author of two short chapter-book series. The Gecko & Sticky books, are fun read-alouds, perfect for reluctant readers, and the Shredderman books—featuring a boy who deals with a bully—received the Christopher Award for “affirming the highest values of the human spirit” and became a Nickelodeon made-for-TV movie.

Van Draanen was a classroom teacher for fifteen years. She and her husband reside in California and have two sons.

Title: Wild Bird
Genre: YA Contemporary
Author: Wendelin Van Draanen
Publisher: Knopf
Publication: September 5th 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

Wild Bird is a beautiful book about a fourteen year old girl given a better chance at life. Not a second chance, a BETTER chance. Wren is send to live in the Utah deserts for eight weeks. This is her parents last attempt to get their daughter back. Wren has become someone even she doesn't recognize. This book is perfect for ages 13+. Yes, there are some pretty heavy topics in this book but I would rather a young person read about them and form their own opinions instead of experiencing this stuff in school or with friends. The story is very angry, then it calms down and becomes sad, scary, truthful and healing. This book is a MUST READ.

Wren is a lot of things. She is stupid, clingy, mean, rude, abusive, cruel, not invisible, etc. But Wren is also lonely, sad, creative, broken, lost, drowning, hollow and invisible. For all the good that Wren might have, no one will ever see it because she has done too much bad. She feels like no one cares about her or loves her so she becomes very destructive. Self-destructive and destructive towards those around her. Wren needs to change and divine intervention allows her to do just that.

Throughout the book we meet a bunch of different side characters. Girls from the camp, family, 'friends', people like that. But this story is Wren's. We get to watch her transition so much from pissed to angry to simmering to hurt to shocked that she did the things she did. Wren comes to a slot of conclussions on her own and it was amazing to see her healing.

The camp that Wren was sent to is a wilderness camp. It is set in the Desert of Utah and the kids are given the skills and items they need to survive out there. They have to find their own water, learn to make a fire, cook, build a tent, dig a latrine and so many other skills that are so awesome but not things a lot of young people know these days. Learning how to survive on her own and connecting with nature and the other people in her group was rocky, at first, but once Wren decided to really TRY she had a wonderful time and learns so many skills. If she ever gets lost in the woods at least she will know how to survive. 

In the end, I wasn't sure if I would like this book or not. The premise sounded kind of weird and I wasn't sure how I would react to a horribly bratty fourteen year old girl who thought her parents were against her and everyone hated her. I just didn't want t be reading a book that was nothing but teen angst and stupid choices. While the book DID have both of those things, it was also something completely different. This book was beautiful in a way that could I never put into words. I know that situations like the one in Wold Bird can't always be repaired with an 8-week trip to the 'wilderness' but the fact that something like this was an option for Wren was amazing. Too often, kids are tossed into the correctional system and not given a chance to change their ways. The way this book ended was exactly what I was hoping for. You know it's coming, because why else write this book if the ending won't be positive, but it was still so heart-warming to reach that point. I really want EVERYONE to read this book! There is a lot to be learned and felt from Wild Bird.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.


Sheena-kay Graham on September 13, 2017 at 7:25 PM said...

Sounds extremely touching. I can see why you enjoyed reading it.

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