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Advent for Authors: Joy with Wild Bird, by Wendelin Van Draanen

This week's blog post for #AdventforAuthors is all about JOY.

Sometimes in the days leading up to Christmas, we forget to slow down and spend time appreciating the small moments of joy within the bustle. Reading is one of those small joys for me. Ironically a change in my work schedule, which has resulted in an hour-long commute, has provided the perfect opportunity to indulge in more books than usual. Audiobooks that is. Same, same right?

Last summer, I saved a number of titles from the AudioBook SYNC summer program (and yes, I know I’m not a teen, but this is such a great program for checking out new authors). One title I was wanting to read for months was Wendelin Van Draanen, Wild Bird. And thanks to snow-laden, hour and a half long commutes this past week, I managed to listen to the whole book in very short order!

What’s it about?

This is the story of a young girl who has hit rock bottom and given her parents little choice but to ship her off to a wilderness survival camp away from drugs, alcohol and unhealthy friendships. While trudging through the Utah desert, Wren Clemens finds out that even in the small joys of setting up her own shelter, building a fire and surviving off of freeze-dried rations that she can grow into a person she never thought possible.

Quality of Writing (5/5): This is my first time reading a novel by Wendelin Van Draanen, and it will definitely not be my last. She wrote from Wren’s perspective in such a raw and believable way that you literally felt yourself taking the emotional rollercoaster of recovery with this angry but persistent 14-year-old girl. There was also just the right amount of unique and memorable research included from desert botany to Native American folklore.

Turn Paging Effect (5/5): I love first-person narrative books, but what really kept me listening in the car, well past reaching my destination was how Wendelin seamlessly shifted from the present tense to past-tense vignettes of key memories in Wren’s life.

Attributes of Hope AND Joy (4/5): FYI- this is not a Christian read, but nonetheless stays clean in content and language despite the heavy themes of addiction, under-age alcohol and drug use and bullying. These are real issues that teens encounter in their schools, and I love how the author created a story true to teen culture while also offering an ending full of redemption and joy. Wren travels from hate to hope in a way that is inspiring and worthy of sharing.

I also posted this review on Goodreads, in line with my goal of adding at least a star review for every book I read. I know a lot of authors out there who would be ecstatic if you did the same. This author would just be ecstatic if you added Fade to White to your TBR list to start!


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