2020 Reviews · contemporary fiction · United States

Book Review: Wild by Kristin Hannah

Title: Wild

Author: Kristin Hannah

Published: July 28th 2020

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 400

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

From the New York Times number one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah, comes Wild, a remarkable story about the resilience of the human spirit, the triumph of hope, and the promise of new beginnings.

In the rugged Pacific Northwest of the United States lies the Olympic National Forest – a vast expanse of impenetrable darkness and impossible beauty. From deep within this mysterious land, a six-year-old girl appears. Speechless and alone, she offers no clue as to her identity, no hint of her past.

Having retreated to her hometown after a scandal left her career in ruins, child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates begins working with the extraordinary little girl. Naming her Alice, Julia is determined to free her from a prison of unimaginable fear and isolation, and discover the truth about Alice’s past. The shocking facts of Alice’s life test the limits of Julia’s faith and strength, even as she struggles to make a home for Alice – and find a new one for herself.

** Published in the US as Magic Hour **

Review:

First published in 2006 as The Magic Hour, Wild by Kristin Hannah has seen a recent re-release. My copy is 2020 Macmillan edition. The story of a fragile young girl who mysteriously emerges from the forest with no family, Wild is an intriguing domestic drama. With the help of a disgraced child psychologist, secrets and heartbreaking revelations come to light concerning this little girl’s past. Wild was another highly riveting tale from the New York Times bestselling author.

Trekking to the Pacific North West region in the US, Wild unveils the astonishing story of a little girl who emerges unaccompanied from the Olympic National Forest, a place of rugged beauty and depth. This child appears with only a wolf as company and is deemed mute to her lack of interaction with those who come into contact with her. Huge questions surround this girl. As the local townsfolk battle to uncover the girl’s identity and her past, this proves to be a perplexing case. The local law enforcement realise they are in over their heads with this strange situation. One local officer calls on her sister, a renowned child psychologist, to assist with this baffling case. Doctor Julia works tirelessly to try and unlock the secrets of the little girl’s past. Julia nicknames the girl Alice and slowly they begin to take some steps towards uncovering Alice’s true identity, along with her tragic past. As the bond between doctor and patient grows, this proves to be a case that will test all involved in order to attain a just resolution.

Since the global success of her novel The Nightingale Kristin Hannah has amassed a legion of fans. It is great to see this author gain such worthy recognition, as I consider Hannah one of my own favorite authors. Thanks to this success, we have seen some of Hannah’s older titles re-released with new covers and fresh titles, as is the case with Wild. Previously released in 2006 as The Magic Hour, Macmillan has rebadged this compelling story for new readers to discover. Wild was a book I couldn’t draw myself away from. It was riveting from start to finish, offering moments of heartbreak, sentiment and mystery.

The principal mystery of this tale revolves around the remarkable discovery of a young girl of approximately six years old, who emerges from a dense forest, with only a wolf as company. It seems quite unbelievable, but we learn through the author’s background work on this book that there have been a number of cases of ‘wild’ children, left to fend for themselves in unpopulated areas across the world. I found this quite fascinating. I also thought it was a fantastic opener and overall concept for a novel. The way in which Hannah sets the scene and the early intrigue surrounding this girl’s true identity is what enticed me to turn page after page of Wild at fairly breakneck speed. I found my enjoyment in this tale was sustained throughout, my only criticism of Wild would be the fast resolution and the questions I had concerning the nitty gritty details of how the wild girl came to remain in the forest.

There is a side focus on tenuous sisterly relations in Wild. We have Doctor Julia facing a career crisis when she is called in by her law enforcement sister to assist with the wild girl case. I enjoyed the dynamics and issues that arose between the two sisters as the story progressed. We are also given an insight into a number of other supporting characters and their personal impact on the case at hand. I enjoyed these interactions. In addition, we are privy to two separate romances that spark between the two sisters in the novel, which offsets the mystery focus of the tale.

The most fascinating aspect of Wild has to be the young wild girl herself – nicknamed Alice by Doctor Julia. I worked alongside Julia with my educational framework, trying to diagnose this young girl. With Julia, I questioned the possibility of Alice being mute, autistic or impacted by trauma. Either way, it is both eye opening and heartbreaking. The development and progression Alice takes towards assimilating into society, along with her slow steps in reaching out for human contact was touching. It was interesting to be able to develop some theories on what happened to Alice. In the end the final turn events did seem plausible, but I did have some lingering thoughts on the scenario presented.

Wild is a story of connection, disconnection, hope, bravery, mystery, revelations and belonging. Kristin Hannah has produced another emotional contemporary drama with this release.

Wild by Kristin Hannah was published on 28th July 2020 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Wild, Kristin Hannah, visit here.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Wild by Kristin Hannah

  1. I just finished Four Winds and I was super excited to read another new book by Kristin Hannah. I started reading Wild, a book I paid 30+ dollars I bought online from Europe only to discover I have read it before, under the name the Magic Hour … I was terribly hurt that I got duped into buying a book that was just rewritten under another name. I had no idea.

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