Wild Awake is a story that sucks you right in. It evoked so many thoughts in me, I'm not even sure I can come close to doing it any justice in my review. I loved it for being counter to stereotypes on so many fronts. First, Kiri admitted to having had a crush on Lukas for the longest time. When those feelings faded, Kiri saw Lukas in a new light which made her think about what this meant for their friendship. Then, Kiri struck up an unlikely friendship with Doug who was wizened with age. Further, Kiri developed a romantic interest in Skunk who became her "love bison". The intricacies of each of these relationships are so well-explored that I felt I got to know each of these characters almost personally. That is how skilled a writer I believe Smith is.
If I loved it so much, why did I not give it 5 stars? Mental illness is a tough topic to grapple with. It is also a very delicate topic that should not be taken lightly. At the same time, it is often very misunderstood. Misunderstanding was demonstrated well enough in the story through ignorance about the symptoms of hypermania, for instance. Still, if someone suffers from mental illness, they would hardly be able to evade supervision so easily. If a parent or guardian was fully aware of their child's predisposition, they would ensure that they couldn't sneak out at night, for example. At least that's my take on responsible parenting. Speaking of responsible parenting, having lost a daughter already didn't exactly seem to deter Kiri's parents from taking off for six whole weeks. As Denny put it, Kiri was the only sister he had left. Given these issues, I couldn't give Wild Awake 5 stars, despite my excitement over the style of writing and the characterization. But I'm a great believer in "suspension of disbelief" as well, so I most definitely would recommend this book to anyone looking for their next read.Fuller review here.