ARC Review: Wild Swans

Wild Swans
Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release date: May 1, 2016

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 story of Wild Swans revolves around expectations and family, with Ivy at its center. She has always been a model daughter, listening to her Grandfather and trying to fulfill his expectations of being the next amazing Milbourn girl. The women in her family have always been brilliant stars but fade out very quickly; she thinks she is the exception because she hasn’t found her calling yet. Living in a house that is a musuem to the feats of the earlier Milbourn women, she has an identity crisis, which is also further worsened by the fact that her mother abandoned her when she was two. Now, this summer she is returning with her two other daughters and Ivy’s world is sent into chaos.

Firstly, the characterization of the book is brilliant. Ivy seems naive and mild-mannered, yes, but she is also mature beyond her age. She has been coddled by her grandfather but also has been working hard to not be like her mother. Her mother’s presence rightfully aggravates her, but she does not resort to angst and drama. That is mostly the territory of her younger half-sister Iz, who is on the verge of an eating disorder thanks to that mother they share. Erica (the mother) is a shitty person, there is no argument; she is troubled soul with alcoholism and a tendency to strike at a person’s weakness. She kept blaming her father for pushing her away but she never once shows remorse for leaving her first infant daughter behind. Ivy’s grandfather, for his part, has to learn expectation management in the light of these various Milbourn women now living with him.

Romance-wise, this book is light on that front. But there is still considerable drama coming from Ivy’s childhood best friend Alex, who obviously becomes a jerk the moment he notices her feelings towards another of the male species. Connor, for his part, is considerate towards her but I did feel he did not understand her completely, especially her struggles with her mother. The ending was mostly open-ended and I felt Ivy forgave very easily, two people who caused her the most pain. Even so, in its entirety it is a well-written story and one I would definitely recommend.

Received a free galley from Sourcebooks Fire, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

View all my reviews

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