ARC Review: Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

Wild Swans

GoodReads 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….

My Review:

Wild Swans is a true coming of age story. One in which Ivy Milbourn must reconcile herself with her past, her mother, her grandfather, and her future. After Ivy’s mother leaves her when she is a child, Ivy’s Granddad raises her. However the summer before her senior year of high school, Ivy’s mother returns, with two additional children in tow. With her mother’s sudden appearence, Ivy starts to question her own life. She believes she is not good enough, that Granddad expects too much of her due to the Milbourn legacy. But with the help of a new friend, Connor, she explores what she wants to do with her life, and figures out a way to forgive her mother, and finally tell her Grandad the truth.

From the synopsis, I thought this book sounded very interesting, and while there a lot of aspects that would make this a great novel, I think it had too much going on with the plot. Between Granddad’s expectations, Ivy’s mother returning, Ivy falling for a guy, her best friend Alex becoming a mute in her life, it felt like there was a lot going on. And for much of the book Ivy whined- about her mother leaving her, Granddad’s exaggerations of her talents, and her best friend Alex needing space after she starts dating a guy.

It’s important to note that Spotswood treated these characters as anyone would in a realistic way. There was a transgendered child, a family trying to come to terms with this child, and a lesbian. But these were side remarks that helped to understand the attitude of the main character, but also treating these things like a normal every day occurrence. I mean, in reality, we don’t run around screaming “My best friend is a lesbian and my other best friend’s sibling is transgendered!”. We just accept who they are and move on.

I also loved how Spotswood brought feminism into the story through Claire. She really pushed the idea that me and women are equal- especially in relationships. Claire points out, many times, when Ivy stood beside Alex when he was flirting/dating/hooking up with other girls, but the moment Ivy starts to do that, Alex becomes enraged and ghosts on their friendship. Friends don’t ghost on friends.

By the end of the novel I was tired of Ivy. I was also waiting for that big climactic moment most stories have. It doesn’t even have to be huge, but for me, the moment wasn’t there. It’s small and understated and I was left wanting more. We heard about the Milbourn curse so much throughout the novel, that I thought maybe something was going to happen with that. Nope it doesn’t. So while this is a good book about reconciling your past and coming to terms with who you are versus who people want you to be, I felt like something was missing.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read this ARC in return for an honest reviw. Receiving this ARC for free does not  sway my opinion in any way.

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