Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood
Release date: May 3, 2016
An e-galley was provided by the publisher in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: 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….
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: This was my first Jessica Spotswood book, and it was a total surprise. I tentatively added it to my TBR list in November and when it was available on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. I figured it would probably be a 3-star read, but it ended up being a 4-star one. There were just a few flaws that kept me from completely loving it.
I enjoyed how Ivy struggled with being ordinary. Too often, YA protagonists know exactly what they want to do with their lives and many teenagers don't. I loved a lot of the feminist aspects of Wild Swans. Ivy stands up for herself when she doesn't love her best friend like he wants her to and she makes sure her voice is heard. The one thing I didn't like about the feminism and activism that was mildly featured in Wild Swans is that, overall, parts of it didn't feel necessary to the driving story. I felt like a lot of it was used to build Claire's character, but it made her awfully one-dimensional instead.
I liked that Ivy and Connor's relationship didn't start as insta-love, even though they were almost immediately attracted to each other. When I realized that the book only covered ten days, though, they moved awfully fast. That has to do more with the timeline of the novel than their relationship, though. I believed they were into each other, so props to Ms. Spotswood for that. That being said, I would've liked the book to cover more time. It felt unrealistic in that aspect, and I struggled to believe so much happened over such a short time. Also SPOILER ALERT Ivy submits a poem to a literary magazine and she hears back, both within the course of Wild Swans. This is highly unrealistic. Lit magazines don't reply that fast. This is part of what led me to believe the book took place over at least a month. END SPOILER
I liked how things resolved with Ivy's mother. It wasn't all rainbows and cupcakes, and it reflected reality. I appreciated how Ivy struggled with her mother's return. Erica isn't quite the demon that Ivy's grown up believing her mother is, and in contrast, Ivy's grandfather isn't as perfect as she once thought, but he isn't terrible by any means. He loves his granddaughters and I feel he even loves his daughter.
There were a couple dozen f-words and s-words and some mild sexual content (no one sleeps together on page, but there's a descriptive make-out session).
The Verdict: I really enjoyed Wild Swans. It was just missing that extra oomph to make it a new favorite.
"[I] remind myself that I am a salt-and-sunshine girl, and this hurricane gloom won't last."
Will I be adding this book to my library?: I'd like to!