Review: Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood (Spoiler Free)

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Title: Wild Swans

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Genre: YA Contemporary

Publication Date: May 3, 2016

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I received this book from NetGalley.

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….

First off, I’d like to say that I think that the synopsis for this one is a little off. Now that I’m reading it again, it makes the book seem like some kind of mystery full of curses and family secrets. That’s not what this book is. Wild Swans is a story about familial expectations, who is and isn’t your family, and dealing with small town politics.

This book is actually pretty heavy for a contemporary. Ivy and the other characters work through some extremely complex and difficult issues throughout this book, and it’s definitely not always pretty. With that said, Wild Swans had a laid back, Southern (even though it wasn’t even set in the South..) vibe that you often find in books set in small towns.

I really appreciated just how much diversity there was in this book. Things like gender identity, sexuality, feminism, and race are all touched on throughout the story, and it was nice to see some characters and concepts (like interracial couples, bisexual characters) that don’t often make it into YA get some representation. God, it was awesome to see a bisexual character who wasn’t portrayed as confused or just promiscuous. That issue was even specifically addressed, and I gave props to the author for that.

The one element of this book that I didn’t care for was the romance. There’s a bit of a love triangle, and I honestly didn’t agree with how the whole situation played out. There’s nothing too wrong with the person Ivy ends up with, but I really didn’t think they were right for her in the end. It also felt like the author took the other person in the triangle and purposely made them a bit harsh to push the reader towards Ivy’s choice, and I generally don’t like that tactic.

All in all, Wild Swans was a great read that touched on some real issues. Though I didn’t enjoy the romance, I ended up quite liking the book overall. 4 out of 5 stars.

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