Review: Wild Bird

Posted on August 7, 2017

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Wild Bird
By Wendelin Van Draanen
Knopf Books for Young Readers
September 2017
320 pages

In the wee hours before dawn, 14-year old Wren Clemmons is jolted out of bed and dragged kicking and screaming from her home and family by a man in a blue uniform who shoves her into the backseat of a black SUV. Is she being kidnapped by a cop? Why won’t her mom and dad save her? As Wren convulses her way out of her weed and whiskey induced haze, she is delivered to the airport with Joel, the cop, and they board a flight to Salt Lake City. Upon arrival Joel hands her over to a woman dressed like a wilderness warrior named Michelle. Wren takes off running but is captured by John, a second wilderness warrior with a man-bun. He shoves her into yet another black SUV. On the long drive out of civilization and into the Utah desert she is told she is on her way to wilderness therapy camp on her own parents’ orders. As Wren lashes out at everyone around her, most of all herself, the scope of her deep-seated hatred and rage unfolds. After being driven blind-folded and then force-marched through the desert, Wren arrives at the primitive camp occupied by six motley female prisoners who are equally messed up. Survival depends on her pitching a tarp tent, digging a latrine, finding her own water source, and starting a fire — without matches — to cook her own food. But she isn’t having any of it. Thus begins Wren’s excruciating quest to save herself from herself. Van Draanen captivates readers with infusions of sarcastic wit and raw emotion into sensory descriptions of harsh primitive living conditions contrasted by the magnificent desert and canyon landscapes. Wild Bird is a spellbinding story about finding one’s way out of the desert wilderness.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Peggy Tibbetts

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