Wild Things by Clay Carmichael (2009)

Others had tried and failed to make me go to school, starting with Lester when I was six. Fourteen stitches and a perfect permanent impression of my teeth in his right arm had shown him the error of his thinking. A year and a half later, sixty percent of my track winnings convinced Manny that the school of life was as good as formal education. Charlie liked that I read to his mother, and reasoned that I was learning plenty while I did. After that, none of the others cared if I went to school or spent my mornings reading and writing at home, my afternoons and evenings in the library. They liked having the housework done, and Mama sure wasn’t going to do it (p 66).

wildthingMen passing as father figures were in and out of Zoe’s life, just as her mother was in and out of hospitals suffering from mental illness. We learn about their influences on her as she begins a new chapter in her life (one she is sure will be just as short as the others) with her half-Uncle Henry.

Most of the book is told from Zoe’s perspective but there are intermittent, delightful chapters told from the perspective of the stray cat pictured on the cover.

Fuse #8 has a wholesome review on her site. But more concisely, this is an engrossing character driven book with very strong writing (good sentence structure, metaphor and perspective).

It’s nothing new or fancy but it’s brilliant. Go read it. If you enjoyed The Secret Garden, Emily of New Moon, Harriet the Spy and Richard Peck’s writing you will enjoy this one.

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