Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood
Release Date - May 3, 2016
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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….
There have been plenty of novels written about growing into yourself and finding your own path. Wild Swans is one such story. It's a contemporary novel whose voice adds something extra to its familiarity and ensures the reader is captivated by this recognizable story.

Jessica Spotswood's characterization is the sharpest element of her story. She crafts these amazingly complex characters. She has a way of ensuring her female characters are especially vivid and fleshed out. She wants to create these nuanced female characters and it shows in this novel as much as it did in her previous series.

There is a dreamy, almost sleepy quality to the setting and prose of this story. The writing matches the beachy setting Ivy calls home. It creates an atmosphere of long summer days that are bright yet hazy. The atmosphere comes completely from the novel's setting and that comes to life because of Jessica's spot on writing.

Ivy is a girl who doesn't give herself enough credit. She is used to constantly striving to be better, always pushing herself. She never feels like she lives up to the expectations she feels are put on her. Her family legacy, her Grandfather, and her own insecurities put pressure on her. It's an all encompassing pressure that shapes her perception of herself and what she wants. Ivy's journey to who she is, and what that means is the heartbeat of the story and one that keeps just as steady of a pace. The change within her feels believeable because it is gradual and filled with second guessing. Ivy is the type of character we've seen many times before - a young woman finding her voice and her own future - but Jessica makes sure she feels unique.

This really is a story of mothers and daughters. Ivy's mother returns and upends what was to be the summer Ivy takes time for herself. Erica is a fascinating character. She is, often, unlikeable. Jessica balances it out by showing us how Erica came to be how she is, and she does it so subtly that you're left with an understanding of who this character is. The complicated relationship Ivy has with Erica and what it means that Erica came back really is the backbone of the novel. We see exactly what being left behind has done to Ivy and that is something Ivy has to work though. These relationships are messy, and sometimes hurtful but ultimately worth the effort. This rings to of all mother/daughter relationships and is something Jessica Spotswoods tackles with, what appears to be, the utmost ease.

Claire, who is Ivy's best friend is the best friend everyone should have. She doesn't allow Ivy to put herself down. She calls out people and is a feminist. This novel tackles body issues, slut shaming and more in the side stories and does so very subtle. Claire is the voice for many of these and often said what I, as a reader, was thinking.

A familiar story about finding your own path, discovering your voice, and finding out that sometimes what your parents want for you is not what you want for yourself. It's a story that is relatable no matter how many times it is told, and this one offers up its own unique take on it. Fans of Jessica Spotswoods previous work will delight in this new read, and it'll certainly encourage new fans to check out her previous works. 

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