By Hilary T. Smith
My Rating: 4 / 5
Here is the Goodreads summary:
Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:
1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.
Things that actually happen:
1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.
Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.
This book was not quite what I expected, but in a good way. I liked Kiri right away, and the story picked up pretty quickly with the mysterious phone call about her dead sister’s belongings. Kiri was much more of a risk taker than I am or certainly would have been at her age, and when she goes down to pick up Sukey’s things, she begins to realize that her sister’s life was not nearly as glamorous as she had envisioned.
Mingled in with Kiri’s discoveries about Sukey’s life and death are her preparations for a piano showcase at the end of the summer, her band practice with Lukas for the upcoming Battle of the Bands, and her efforts to win Lukas’s affections. These stories are all told in Kiri’s increasingly frantic voice (the alcohol and drugs probably weren’t helping things!) and her state of mind seemed to unravel a bit throughout the book.
I have to say that I was really wowed by the writing. Hilary T. Smith certainly has a way with words, and even when I was frustrated with Kiri’s behaviour and mentally yelling at her, or not feeling totally invested in the story, her writing kept me from putting the book down.
Kiri’s relationship with Skunk, a boy she meets while out to pick up Sukey’s things, was very sweet. He has his own troubles, but their friendship that developed into something more made me smile. The darker storyline, for me, was Kiri learning the truth about Sukey’s death, and trying to reconcile what she learned with what she had believed.
All of these story lines blended together into an absorbing book, and I really liked it. Definitely recommended if you are looking for a good contemporary read!