Loneliness, a bad crowd, and a downward spiral led 14-year-old Wren to this: while on a midnight bender, she's dragged to the airport and shipped off. Wren's parents, concerned for both Wren's health and safety and their own, have sent her to a wilderness therapy camp. Angry and resistant, Wren has no intention of learning how to find water or build a fire, until it becomes apparent that, out here, those skills are essential. Despite herself, Wren is slowly won over by the harsh beauty of the Utah desert and by her fellow campers. The story alternates between Wren's experiences in the desert and her flashbacks to the decisions—and friends—that led her there. Van Draanen, always versatile, frankly tackles teen drug use and recovery in a book that's less gritty, and often less bleak, than an Ellen Hopkins novel. Ultimately, everything comes together a bit neatly, but for readers who have come to root for Wren—an out-of-control girl who learns to ask for help—that's not such a bad thing. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Fourteen-year-old Wren knows that she's in trouble when she awakens to a police officer hovering near her bed, but she has no idea what's in store for her. Wren's parents, in a desperate effort to save their daughter from a downward spiral of drug use and criminal behavior, have enrolled her in an eight-week wilderness program for at-risk youth. Whisked to Utah and dropped in the desert to join a group of teens and counselors, Wren endures a harrowing quest to find herself while battling extreme heat, limited water supplies, and rigorous hikes across the terrain. Mirroring physical pain and emotional torment as Wren recalls instances of betrayal and rejection, Van Draanen (The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones) shows how the teenager finds unexpected guidance from an elderly Paiute man, a heroin-addicted camper, and a patient counselor who teaches her how to start a fire in the wilderness, as well as within herself. Featuring evocative descriptions of landscape and psychological insight into a troubled teen, Van Draanen's story is engrossing and inspiring. Ages 12–up. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. (Sept.)
Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 8 Up—Fourteen-year-old Wren Clemmens is awakened by cops at 3:47 a.m. and forcibly delivered to a wilderness therapy program in the southern Utah desert. It's no surprise that she is filled with anger, bitterness, and resentment—at her parents, her tattle-tale older sister, and the world. Wren had become caught in a downward spiral of drinking, drug abuse, and shoplifting, and her parents found themselves without other options. Now Wren is forced to confront the unforgiving elements and the stark results of her actions. Gradually, however, she lets down her defenses and learns who she wants to be. This is a strikingly raw and emotional story about making poor choices, facing the agonizing consequences, and ultimately experiencing the joy of getting a second chance. This first-person narrative perfectly captures Wren's cynical yet vulnerable teen voice. The protagonist's transformation is slow but realistic. Flashbacks flow naturally through the book, eventually revealing how Wren arrived at this point. The author deals with some heavy issues but never crosses the line into sensationalism. VERDICT A hopeful novel that demonstrates that people can change. Give to readers who enjoy survivalist tales.—Tim Wadham, Children's Literature Consultant, Puyallup, WA
Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.
The award-winning author of Flipped presents the story of a young girl who is taken away to a wilderness therapy camp when her behavior escalates out of control, a situation that forces her to develop new skills, including the courage to ask for help. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)
When her behavior escalates out of control, fourteen-year-old Wren is taken away to a wilderness therapy camp where she is forced to develop new skills, including the courage to ask for help. - (Baker & Taylor)
In her most incisive and insightful book yet, Wendelin Van Draanen, award-winning author of The Running Dream and Flipped, offers a remarkable portrait of a girl who has hit rock bottom, but begins a climb back to herself at a wilderness survival camp in the desert.
3:47 a.m. That’s when they come for Wren Clemmens. 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 anymore. This is wilderness therapy camp. Eight weeks of survivalist camping in the desert. Eight weeks to turn your life around. Yeah, right.
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.
Advance praise for Wild Bird:
"I read Wild Bird in one long mesmerized gulp. Wren will break your heart—and then mend it." —Nancy Werlin, National Book Award finalist for The Rules of Survival
Praise for Wendelin van Draanen’s The Running Dream:
“[An] accessible and inspirational novel.” —The Horn Book Magazine
“Readers will truly feel what’s it like to walk (or run) a mile (or 10) in Jessica’s shoes.” —Booklist
“Inspirational. The pace of Van Draanen’s prose matches Jessica’s at her swiftest. Readers will zoom through the book just as Jessica blazes around the track. A lively and lovely story.” —Kirkus Reviews - (Random House, Inc.)