Monday, October 24, 2016

Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor (Review)

YA, Contemporary 
Publication Date:May 3, 2016
Published By: Sky Pony Press
Review copy:e-ARC from publisher 
Buy it:
Amazon ~ B&N ~ Chapters

Raised by Wanderers, sixteen-year-old Tal travels the roads of the southern wild in her Chevy by day and camps in her tent trailer at night. Hustling, conning, and grifting her way into just enough cash to save her fifteen-year-old brother, Wen, from bare-knuckle fighting was once enough to keep her dreams of traveling the whole world at bay. Everything changes when the Wanderers set up camp in a little town called Cedar Falls.

There, Spencer Sway, a boy Tal tried to hustle at a game of billiards, keeps popping up into her life—and worst of all—into her scams. Buttoned-up, starched-and-ironed Spencer talks of places where Tal’s truck can’t take her. His promises of traveling across oceans are almost enough to shatter her love of the Wanderer life.

When a boy shows up at camp, ready to make good on a nearly-forgotten arranged marriage to Tal, Tal and Wen make a pact: No matter the cost, they will use their limitless skills of grift to earn the bride price and buy back her future—even if Spencer Sway gets used along the way.

It could have been two years or two days after; I couldn't say.  Maybe childhood memories are that way for everyone   markies and Wanders the same.  But for Wanderers, I suppose, those memories are even more vague.  When nothing is the same from day to day, there's no anchor, only ambiguous, timeless, placeless years that flow together.
The superstitions, the lore, the magic, they're all as common to us as trees.  But the camp's explanation was wrong, and so was their belief in me. 
As the shape of his back moves away from me, I realize something horrible's happened  I let the momentum of Spencer and me build to a dangerous speed.
And we just crashed.

  Picking up a book that comes with something different and unusual, is always enjoyable.  Maybe it's just me but I get especially excited when the book features someones inside view of gypsies, wanderers, a cult, or just some less appreciated culture in general.  I think they are a chance to glance into a world that is not our own, view a life that we may never even get the chance to experience.  Maybe that is that way of all books, but I like the truth and the strength that follows with the characters in these contemporary novels that features a different way of life.  Taylor's Wandering Wild was a beautiful and exceptional example of this.  

  I have read very few books on Wanderers or Gypsies, and honestly I do not know much of their way of life beyond what I have read/heard.  This being said, I really enjoyed getting to see their world through Tal's eyes.  Taylor painted a vivid character that did not resent the situation she was in (in fact she could never imagine being tethered to one place), and she coloured a world that carries its own beliefs and traditions.  I enjoyed the flowing pace and the consistent plot, that headed towards something different.  Wandering Wild carried the kind of pace I desire with the character and world to walk along with it.

  I loved Tal and Wen.  They were a great example of two sides of the same coin.  Tal loved the movement and freedom that being a Wanderer brought her, but she questioned her peoples beliefs.  Wen didn't have a problem with their belief system, but he did wonder what it would be like to stay in one place, become what they targeted: a markie.  Though Talia was the main character, Wen was her brother, her other half.  I think he was what mostly gave her the ability to see beyond, or maybe she had always been looking and I just didn't see that.  Tal was strong, full of ideas and undeniably clever because she had to be.  What I think I quite possibly loved the most was that she was not perfect, she was not completely selfless.  Yes, she loved her brother but she wasn't willing to give in to everything because it might make things easier for him.  Loving him did not mean that she compromised what she wanted.  To some this may be a downfall, but I feel in the end it was what really set her apart.

  As for the love side of things, I would like to say that it didn't matter but it did.  Wen and his love for books and something that didn't belong in his world, and Tal and her romance with Spencer... Who most definitely did not fit in her world.  The thing was though, that he wanted something that intrigued Tal, he wanted to travel.  To Tal she couldn't imagine being in one place for her entire life, but being in one place wouldn't be so bad if she got to see everything that she wanted.  Spencer seemed to live in a world that was unimaginable to Tal but, they both learn not everything is at it seems.  It's when their worlds begin to collide more than either anticipated that they find the connection they didn't expect.  I enjoyed the chemistry and the growth this relationship made as the book progressed.  In fact I would say I enjoyed these two more than I have any other relationship in awhile.

  Wandering Wild is a spectacular debut, that captivated me with its colourful world and developed characters.  I finished this book in less than a day, and I don't even question for a moment that others will do the same.  If you are a fan of contemporary and love to watch worlds collide in a spectacular way, don't hesitate to pick up Wandering Wild.

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