Welcome to the blog tour stop for Wendelin Van Draanen’s upcoming YA novel WILD BIRD.  At once challenging and hopeful, this desert adventure will leave you simultaneously laughing, screaming in frustration and ultimately satisfied.




3:47 a.m. That’s when they come for Wren Clemmens. She’s hustled out of her house and into a waiting car, then a plane, and then taken on a forced march into the desert. This is what happens to kids who’ve gone so far off the rails, their parents don’t know what to do with them anymore. This is wilderness therapy camp. Eight weeks of survivalist camping in the desert. Eight weeks to turn your life around. The Wren who arrives in the Utah desert is angry and bitter, and blaming everyone but herself. But angry can’t put up a tent. And bitter won’t start a fire. Wren’s going to have to admit she needs help if she’s going to survive.
In WILD BIRD, Wendelin Van Draanen shows Wren’s slow and painful journey from lost innocence to found strength.



Wendelin 2016 - Credit Connor V. Parsons.jpg

WENDELIN VAN DRAANEN was a classroom teacher for many years before turning to writing full-time. Her first Sammy Keyes mystery, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award. She is also the author of many beloved stand-alone novels, including Flipped, The Running Dream, and The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones. She lives in Central California with her husband and two sons. Visit her online at www.wendelinvand.com .




Overall:  In a downward spiral and caught off guard by a family that can’t take her antics any longer, Wren is shipped to the Utah desert for an eight week wilderness therapy camp.  She has a terrible attitude and tries to run away from the get go. Constantly frustrated and making excuses for herself, the story of what brought her to camp slowly unravels as she unwittingly begins to participate in the wilderness that surrounds her.  You literally see the contrast between friendships with Meadow in the past (troubled) and Hannah (relationship built on positive ties).  While Wren begins as the perfect embodiment of a flawed main character, you see the impetus behind the bad choices.  However, you also see her overcome one obstacle after another.  Many will enjoy this emotional and motivational contemporary.

Judge a Book by its Cover:  A cracking, arid landscape is the perfect introduction to Wren’s current life situation as well as the Utah desert where she ends up for eight weeks.  The heart, sprouting whole and young from the center with the bird inside is a beautiful metaphor for the story that lies inside.

Me Talk Pretty:  Told between past and present, this is an intriguing tale of a fast life catching up with a young woman, putting her at the crossroads of ruining her life early or being able to persist beyond the obstacles she’s created.  We were provided an ARC by the publisher, so the following quotes may not be final, but will give you an idea of Van Draanen’s writing style.

“We are prisoners, but instead of being locked up in small cells with bars, we’re trapped in the wide open, surrounded by thorns and dry endless desert.”

“I remember the miles I’ve walked, the bucked I’ve sweated, the blisters I’ve endured and the tears I’ve cried to get here.”

Kick-Ass Factor:  Not only does Wren’s mind undergo a transformation in the desert, but her body does, too. There are multiple references to her gaining strength and stamina.  With the building strength of her body comes self-reliance and self-confidence.


Open tab/Last call:  Draanen has written a number of other books and I definitely would check them out.  I’d leave the tab open for her to order up a nice, refreshing Paloma during our long chat at the bar.





  1. Follow our blog using the blue Follow button below this post.
  2. Comment below with your favorite contemporary (if you follow via email, please let us know what email address you use to follow in the comment)
  3. Because the winner will be notified via comment below, turn on comment notifications
  5. Contest ends at midnight EST on September 6th
  6. Winner will be notified via blog comment reply on Thursday, September 7th and will have 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be picked.
Wild Bird will be published by Knopf on September 5th 2017, 311 pages.