Weekend Reads: “The Wild”

The WildThe Wild by Owen Laukkanen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This fast-paced young adult thriller looks not only at family issues, but what happens when those families become desperate.

The narrator, actually an outside party who breaks the proverbial fourth well pretty regularly, tells us about Dawn. Her dad has died (we find out the circumstances partway through the book), and she doesn’t like her stepfather. She’s drinking, using, and shacking up with a guy who is literally twice her age.

So, her folks send her to Out of the Wild, a camp for troubled youth … and this is where the problems begin. The counselors seem unethical from the start, and Dawn doesn’t get on with most of her team. However, she has a crush on Warden, one of the older boys.

When a hike starts to go horribly wrong, Dawn looks to Warden for leadership. But she soon discovers that no one, including the counselors, are quite what they seem. And now, all she can think about is how to get away.

This book grabs you and just doesn’t let go.

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Weekend Reads: “Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins”

Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and CabinsWelcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins by Katarina Bivald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit, this book took a little time to find its footing. It begins with Henny Broek, resident of Pine Creek, Ore., being hit and killed by a truck while crossing the street. Then, the primary narrator is Henny’s ghost, trying to figure out what to do next.

In the mean while, we see her friends (MacKenzie, Camila, and Michael) trying to find their way through grief at the motel where all of them worked. All of them except Michael, who made his way out in the world as a geologist. And then there’s Henny’s dad, Robert, who is determined to make everyone understand that his daughter was “normal.”

Why? Because a whole lot of people in town presume she was a lesbian.

And this is where things get complicated. We get to see a whole lot of homophobic attitude on display from the townsfolk. The book is, after all, set during the days of Oregon’s two Measure 9 initiatives, which were created by an anti-LGBT organization to restrict the rights of gay and transgender people. The reason this is complicated, for me, is that I grew up in a podunk Oregon town with far too many parallels to the fictional Pine Creek. I would love to tell you that attitudes there are different from those of the author’s 1990s Pine Creek, but I can’t. The anti-LGBTQ+ movement that is writ large in the news these days is alive and well in my hometown.

So, this book was hard for me in many ways. One of my best friends in high school was a gay guy who couldn’t be safely “out” because of people like the ones in this book.

In other words, it’s some incredibly realistic fiction that was well worth waiting for things to pick up; Henny’s friends figure things out about themselves and the world that they might not have managed if she’d never been their friend.

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Perhaps one of these suggestions resonates with you? Why not follow through?

Story Empire

Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about supporting our fellow writers.

Have you ever wished people would be more supportive of your writing? Or wonder how to help other writers? I know I have.

An author’s body of work can vary, including novels, short stories, nonfiction, poetry, articles, or blogs. One thing they all have in common is they are all looking for readers. Does that make it a competition? No. Each audience is unique. A writer offers personal insight and life experience on any given subject. The wonderful writing community is where we can all exist successfully. I am always cheering for every achievement of my fellow writers.

What are the best ways to offer our support?

  • Read! There are many genres out there, and it’s impossible to read all of them. So read the ones you enjoy.
  • If you enjoyed the book you’ve read—write a review. Didn’t like…

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IT’S ALIVE! — T.E. MacArthur, Author

My Darlings, at last, The Skin Thief has been released into the wild. Agent Tessa Lancing believes she knows all about death – until she meets Death itself. Accused traitor Jack de Sombras is already as good as dead. And an ancient evil is coming for them. The Skin Thief is an enthralling paranormal thriller […]

IT’S ALIVE! — T.E. MacArthur, Author

It’s my honor to share my travel shenanigans partner and dear friend T.E. MacArthur’s book release with you. Thena and I were with the same imprint a decade ago, and I’m so excited for her new adventures as a thriller author.