Published by HarperTeen on June 26, 2018
There are two monsters in this story. One of them is me.
Ask anyone in Winship, Maine, and they’ll tell you the summer camp Quinn’s family owns is a magical place. Paper wishes hang from the ceiling. Blueberries grow in the dead of winter. According to local legend, a sea monster even lurks off the coast. Mostly, there’s just a feeling that something extraordinary could happen there.
Like Quinn falling in love with her best friend, Dylan.
After the accident, the magic drained from Quinn’s life. Now Dylan is gone, the camp is a lonely place, and Quinn knows it’s her fault.
But the new boy in town, Alexander, doesn’t see her as the monster she believes herself to be. As Quinn lets herself open up again, she begins to understand the truth about love, loss, and monsters—real and imagined.
Content warnings: grief, death, drowning
I am having such good luck with these fabulist YA contemporaries coming out this summer. Wild Blue Wonder was a sweet, unexpected gem of a novel, complete with a summer camp setting, alternating timelines, lush writing, and touches of magic.
Wild Blue Wonder alternates between two timelines, both told from the main character, Quinn’s, perspective. We follow Quinn in present day (during the fall/winter), as well as over the course of the previous summer. We find out that some large event happened at the end of summer that changed Quinn’s relationships with everyone in her life, but this event is not immediately revealed. The contrast between the brightness and love Quinn feels during the summer and the blanket of grief that covers her family in the winter was so well-done and really served to emphasize the ways in which tragedy changes people.
I adored the setting of this story. Quinn’s family owns a summer camp called The Hundreds, which serves over 800 campers every summer. However, I especially enjoyed reading about The Hundreds during the winter off-season. Even though it was empty of campers, it still held a particular kind of magic. Summer camp stories are one of my favorite YA contemporary tropes to read.
I would be remiss not to mention that Wild Blue Wonder is written beautifully. The fabulist elements Sorosiak incorporated into this story served to make the reading experience even more immersive. A huge plot point involves Quinn searching out the sea monster rumored to live in the lake on her family’s property. This mirrors Quinn’s personal experience of viewing herself as a monster because of her perceived role in what happened over the summer. Even with these glimpses of magic, this story is firmly rooted in real-world problems and themes.
Friendship and family are a constant throughout both parts of Wild Blue Wonder. Quinn’s family is extremely tight-knit, but she and her two siblings have grown apart since the events of the summer. Her parents and grandmother are trying desperately to piece their family back together while at the same time having to cope with their own grief. Quinn’s grandmother, in particular, was a favorite. She’s the wise, hippie grandmother who gives Quinn the advice she needs to hear, even when it may not necessarily be what she wants to hear. Quinn’s best friend, Hana, was such a great friend to Quinn throughout this story. There is a romance, as well, between Quinn and Alexander, the new kid in town. Though it plays a bit of a background role to Quinn’s own personal growth and her relationships with her family and herself, the romance was still very sweet and adorably awkward. It definitely added to the story.
Overall, Wild Blue Wonder surprised me with its combination of atmosphere and depth. It tackles the complicated process of forgiving yourself and others and processing grief. The family dynamic is refreshing, and the camp setting makes this a perfect summer read for lovers of more serious YA contemporaries. I can’t wait to pick up more of Carlie Sorosiak’s writing now!
Have you read Wild Blue Wonder? If so, what did you think? If not, is it on your summer TBR?