*I received a free copy of Wild Swans from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on 3 May 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden; all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?
But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past…
Realizing there’s more to family than first imagined is something Ivy has to do in Wild Swans, which is a tender story about truly growing up.
Ivy has lived most of her life in a small town, where both she, and everyone else knows that her mom left her when she was very young. Since she was two, she’s never seen her mom, but she’s had a stable and good life with her grand-dad and some good friends. Wild Swans unfolds over the span of just a couple of weeks in the summer before Ivy’s senior year at high school, and she has a lot of choices to make about her future. Alex, her best friend and the boy next door has showed her that he has more than just friendly feelings for her – but she just doesn’t want anything to change. Then, her grand-dad throws a curve-ball her way, saying her mom needs to come home, with her two daughters so she can regroup.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of emotions in Wild Swans, and I thought Ivy dealt with those in quite a mature way! She wasn’t the character who needed to grow up the most. Always striving to be good, to be better, to live up to her grand-father’s expectations, Ivy was a hard worker for sure. And when her mother – whom she called Erica – came back with two girls, and pretended that Ivy was her sister rather than her daughter, things became more complicated and quite a bit ugly as well.
On top of having to deal with her mom and new sisters, she also had to live with her best friend not wanting to be around her anymore because he was in love with her. Also, falling in love with one of her grand-father’s students, working on her grand-mother’s poems and trying to forge a relationship with her younger siblings. Written in first person point of view, from Ivy’s perspective and in present tense, the story unfolds in a way that makes each of Ivy’s discoveries the reader’s discovery at the same time. Definitely a solid read, and one I recommend to those who enjoy coming of age stories that are angled slightly differently than the norm.
Lightning hasn’t split the sky yet, but I can taste it coming. The air’s so thick I could swim through it.
Later, when he walked me to my door at three in the morning, he stopped and looked at me. Really looked, like I wasn’t the Ivy he’d been looking at his whole life – or maybe I was, but I was also more. Ivy-plus.
No one is expecting him to be extraordinary. Except… I think he expects it of himself. I watch as he leans down, tripping his fingers lightly over those spines again, and he is so goddamn gorgeous I want to cry. He knows what he wants and he’s going to make it happen.