Reviews in 200 Words

Wild Things by Clay Carmichael (reviewed by Jay Cullis)

In Young Adult Literature on June 2, 2010 at 6:05 am

Kids only see one side of the adulthood coin. They watch their parents. Their teachers. Relatives. Constantly observing, they see only the side endeavoring at authority. They rarely glimpse the other side, the one clinging to childhood – or the side that’s scared as hell. Or lonely. The side that misses mom and just wants someone close.

Jaded beyond her eleven years, Zoë is taken in by her uncle – a quiet sculptor who welds and bends metal but can’t seem to mend his own broken heart. Setting aside suspicions, Zoë discovers trust: First with the ragamuffin cat hiding under the porch, later with the adults who buoy and balance and orbit with subtle grace.

Good children’s authors deal from both ends of the deck. Up her sleeves Clay Carmichael’s got aces aplenty. She succeeds in the details: The wooden box of small carved animals. The smell of the still. The sounds the cat hears while hiding in the crawlspace below the church.

And in the voice of a girl who’s slowly turning over the coin of adulthood and polishing off the grime we find a uncompromising story – rough around the edges of a graceful, grateful center.

-Jay Cullis 

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