Thursday, October 16, 2014

Me on Beware the Wild

Title: Beware the Wild
Author: Natalie C. Parker
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen

It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed. Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance... and lonely boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.

Beware the Wild is a haunting, atmospheric tale, one about memory, about family, about change, and about the lengths we will go to to save our siblings.

Sterling is afraid of a number of things, but she's determined to save her brother from the swamp. She won't let anyone stop her from finding him, from rescuing him, from finding out who Lenora May is and what she's suddenly doing in her house. Phin is so much of her life, she won't dare let him die. Even if he's going off to college soon. Even if she doesn't want him to leave. Nothing will stop her from saving him.

As strong as Sterling is in some ways, she's weak in others. Her fight with Phin changed things. The idea of him leaving frightens her. Why does he have to go? Why can't he stay at home? Why can't things stay the same? Change is one of those complicated things we want and don't want at the same time. We want to move on, we want to experience new things, we want to meet new people, but we're already comfortable with the way things are. If it's not broken, don't fix it, right?

Secrets and memories, remembered and forgotten, circle this story. How are we supposed to know which we're supposed to remember? What if we forget them? How are we supposed to remember them again? What if the biggest forgotten secret is something fenced off, hidden from everyone's eyes? What if it's right there for everyone to see?

I found this mysterious and hypnotic, the Southern summer heat from the swamp winding its way through the town. Small towns have secrets, things everyone knows not to talk about without remembering why. But Sterling isn't like that. She moves the story along, she asks questions and goes searching. Without her, it wouldn't be long until everything was forgotten. Recommended for those who like haunting mysteries, secrets hidden away in swamps, and fans of The Replacement and Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from HarperCollins Canada.)

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