Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen Book Review--It was Okay, or Whatever.

3:47 a.m. That's when they come for Wren Clemens. She's hustled out of her house and into a waiting car, then a plane, and then taken on a forced march into the desert. This is what happens to kids who've gone so far off the rails, their parents don't know what to do with them any more. This is wilderness therapy camp. 

The Wren who arrives in the Utah desert is angry and bitter, and blaming everyone but herself. But angry can't put up a tent. And bitter won't start a fire. Wren's going to have to admit she needs help if she's going to survive. 

In her most incisive and insightful book yet, beloved author Wendelin Van Draanen's offers a remarkable portrait of a girl who too a wrong turn and got lost--but who may be able to find her way back again in the vast, harsh desert.

Wren's only fourteen but she's already done enough to land herself in bootcamp. She's smoking and drinking. She's stealing, keeping secrets--and even selling drugs.

She's angry and acting out. Her parents have had enough and they sign her
 up for a wilderness boot camp for misbehaving teens. It's there that she discovers the root of her anger--and truly finds her self.

This was a pretty decent coming of age story--one that wasn't necessarily compelling but was fairly interesting.

Wren is fairly likable. Yes, she does some bad things but she repents and makes it right. 

Her family dynamic was pretty interesting. The parents seemed pretty disappointed in Wren--but as characters, they were pretty quiet. That's actually kind of weird, but I think the author wanted to make the story more about Wren's development outside of her family. 

The sister is pretty holier than thou--and she doesn't seem, not at first, to want to even find out what's going on with Wren--but she does eventually come around. So, there's that. 

The younger brother seems to be the only one that doesn't necessarily seem to think the worst about Wren.

Wren had one best friend, whose name escapes me at the moment--but she was a really bad friend. She started Wren on her path to destruction--then stood back and watched her burn. 

Looking at it from this angle, it's no wonder Wren wound up where she was. 

The camp--I liked the camp overall. I know Wren is forced here--but I definitely felt it was more helpful than harmful. They were supportive--without being enabling. The characters were pretty solid here, and the way they handled the different teens and their situations was actually pretty smart.

Overall, I liked the idea behind the book, I just think the execution was pretty, okay, at best. Wasn't a winner for me, unfortunately. HOWEVER...

This book tackles strong and important messages--and it will appeal to teens coming-of-age. I think it's a great read for teens overall, and is better suited for a younger audience. 


  1. Hm... I don't think this one is for me. I never liked the idea of harsh wilderness books for troubled kids so that is already a minus. However, I can see your point about it appealing to a younger audience. Makes sense. Brilly review.

    1. I think it would work better for a younger audience, and thanks!

  2. This sounds like an interesting book but I don't think I'd be able to get through it.....there are some "tough subject" books that freak me out a little to be honest, and wilderness camp is definitely one of those themes I avoid. But it sounds like you really gave a lot of thought to this book and your review could be a great starting point for someone looking into this book!

    Wren @ For The Love of Books

  3. I love your title for this one. It Was Okay or Whatever does seem to sum up your feelings about this one! :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  4. Oh, I enjoyed this one! (WOW, we have really different tastes haha!) But mostly I just really enjoyed reading it. This author writes very well and while I never came to *love* the main character, I followed her story with interest. She did annoy me at times for sure, though. Like all the things she did - I just wanted to shake her!!!

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