Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Well, friends, I am here to tell you that this was a MISTAKE. Because months after receiving it for Christmas, I finally read Wildlife, adored it, and then discovered that *gasp* Six Impossible Things is actually Wood's first novel. And it has characters from Wildlife! And it takes place before Wildlife! And American publishing had duped me! And by letting my crazy personal TBR rules take over, I had actually committed the cardinal reading sin of reading books out of chronological order.
I know that there are just as many others out there who care about chronology and avoiding spoilers as much as I do, so consider this your word of warning. READ SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS FIRST! DO IT AND AVOID A HEARTBREAKING SPOILER.
Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, I can safely tell you that both books are awesome, and they aren't direct sequels, just companions with shared characters but still. And a third book by Wood is coming out in the U.S. this fall, and yes, the main characters are secondary characters in Wildlife, so to all my fellow reading sticklers, don't even think about reading Cloudwish until you've read Six Impossible Things and then Wildlife.
So, Six Impossible Things! It's the story of Dan Cereil, whose life is not fantastic at the start of the story. His dad has just declared bankruptcy, left his mom, and come out as gay. Dan and his mom are pretty much broke, and they end up living in a very large, very old house that great-aunt Adelaide left them. The only think that makes life bearable for Dan is Estelle, the girl next door. He's hopelessly in love with her, and he knows for a fact they'd be perfect for each other--only they've never met. And if Estelle ever finds out the reason why Dan knows they'd be perfect together...well, she'd definitely hate him.
Six Impossible Things reminds me of a John Hughes movie, only if that movie were set in Melbourne, Australia, and not the suburbs of Chicago. Wood's novel is populated by weird and interesting and funny teens whose struggles and senses of humor are totally relatable, and they make some bad decisions, but sometimes they make some good decisions and it's all so entertaining and heartfelt. Dan's pursuit not only to win Estelle, but to figure out how to be a good person, is a struggle we all face and his misadventures are funny and heartfelt. It's really refreshing to read this kind of a story from a male perspective, and I enjoyed the characters all so well.
I also really appreciated how Wood explored the family's financial situation within the book. The sudden shift from financial security (and implied wealth) to nearly out on the streets broke is an interesting dynamic, and in some ways just as traumatic as a death. Money worries take up a lot of Dan's brain space, especially as he tries to keep his mom from sabotaging her own wedding cake business and find a job himself. Wood does a great job at showing how a lack of money can have a domino effect on teens' lives and bring about other challenges--Dan outgrows his clothes, can't buy a dance ticket, and he worries when he can't afford to take his dog to the vet. Wood writes with sensitivity and empathy that teens will appreciate.
Wood creates a world that readers will want to inhabit, with an ending that is just an convenient (but not less genuine) than a John Hughes movie ending, and easily twice as satisfying. Trust me, you'll run to the bookstore for Wildlife once you've finished.
ARC provided by publisher, like, ages ago. Thanks, guys. I'm sorry I'm seven months behind on everything.