by Wendelin Van Draanen
* * * * Stars (Great!)
Everything changes when Wren’s family moves right before she starts middle school. Wren feels lost and alone and disconnected from everyone. She has trouble making friends and the only person who does seem to accept her is Meadow – a year older and Trouble. Over the next couple of years, Wren starts drinking and smoking pot, stealing from her parents, and shoplifting. She’s pretty much at war with everyone and so angry. Early one morning Wren is awakened abruptly when a uniformed man arrives to escort her to a wilderness therapy camp in the Utah desert – her parents’ last ditch attempt to help her. There, she has to learn how to survive, take care of, and take responsibility for herself and her actions.
Initially it’s difficult to empathize with Wren and her situation. She has done some stupid and terrible things and doesn’t seem to have any remorse about them (or empathy for others). She’s selfish and whiny and annoying and awful. It seems unlikely that anything – let alone wilderness camp – can help her. Her story is told through a bunch of flashbacks – what events and behavior led her to where she is now – and present time experiences at camp. Those who stick with Wren and her story will find a young woman worth saving and worth knowing as she gets to the roots of her anger and feelings of abandonment and resentment and learns more about who she is and how to turn her willfulness and stubbornness into assets.
Reviewed by YA Librarian