Well hello there!
Is it true? Am I posting a book review?! I know…it’s been a while right?!
Well, it IS true. In September (yes September…that’s how behind I am!) I read Wild Things by Clay Carmichael. This is one of the fifteen Florida Sunshine State books and I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
A headstrong girl. A stray cat. A wild boy. A man who plays with fire. Eleven-year-old Zoe trusts no one. Her father left before she was born. At the death of her irresponsible mother, Zoe goes to live with her uncle, former surgeon and famed metal sculptor Dr. Henry Royster. She’s sure Henry will fail her as everyone else has. Reclusive since his wife’s death, Henry takes Zoe to Sugar Hill, North Carolina, where he welds sculptures as stormy as his moods. Zoe and Henry have much in common: brains, fiery and creative natures, and badly broken hearts. Zoe confronts small-town prejudice with a quick temper. She warms to Henry’s odd but devoted friends, meets a mysterious teenage boy living wild in the neighboring woods, and works to win the trust of a feral cat while struggling to trust in anyone herself. Zoe’s questing spirit leads her to uncover the wild boy’s identity, lay bare a local lie, and begin to understand the true power of Henry’s art. Then one decisive night, she and the boy risk everything in a reckless act of heroism.
This was the last Sunshine State book I read this year. I just wasn’t interested in the summary. It sounded slow and honestly, a little boring. Which is why I was so shocked to find myself liking this book as much as I did.
This is mostly a story about trust and relationships. Zoe is the main character, but is not the only one learning how to trust and love people better. Everyone from Zoe, to Henry, to the cat, to the boy was grappling with the relationships (or lack there of) in their lives. The side-by-side narratives of Zoe and the cat was perfectly done as Zoe was trying to earn the cat’s trust while also struggling to extend that same trust to the adults in her life.
This book was heartwarming, but not in a “ugh make me vomit way” (how I normally respond to “heartwarming” tales). Zoe has enough sass and sarcasm to give this story humor and the supporting small town characters were lovable and sweet. There is just enough depth to Carmichael’s story, without dragging the reader down.
At times, I did wonder about the dialog, especial the words and phrases Zoe used. It seemed a little false and too mature for a teenage girl to be using-even one as mature and well read as Zoe.
Although I don’t think this is a book that would grab a reluctant reader’s attention, middle graders (and up!) who enjoy reading will find Wild Things to be a rewarding read.