Wild Things by Clay Carmichael

June 8th, 2009

Eleven-year-old Zoe trusts no one. Her father left before she was born. Her irresponsible mother left her mostly on her own. When her mother suddenly dies, Zoe goes to live with her uncle, former surgeon and famed metal sculptor, Dr. Henry Royster. She's sure Henry will fail her as everyone else has.

After having more step-dad's than she can remember, Zoe is pretty sure she has most guys figured out. They hang around until they have no use for you anymore or their just plain tired of being around you. With her uncle Henry's gruff demeanor, she hasn't quite figured out which one will have her packing first. The thing is, every time Zoe thinks she has Henry figured out he does something to surprise her, something nice and thoughtful. Plus, there are all a lot of people who like Henry. His handyman Fred and his wife Bessie, the local sheriff, and even the Padre from the local church. There is plenty of verbal sparring as both Henry and Zoe learn to trust each other, neither of them willing to have their hearts broken again. As the story progresses you can truly see through actions more than words how they are slowing healing each other and becoming closer and closer each day.

Zoes real adventure begins when she finds an abandoned cabin in the woods that looks like someone used to live there and left it filled with some of their most prized possessions. Every time she heads to the cabin she senses someone, or something out there and a few times catches a glimpse of a pure white, ghost-like doe traipsing throught the forest. When Zoe finds the doe and the wild child of a boy holding her, both staring down the barrell of a shotgun, she puts herself between the pair and the hunter staring them down. Who is this boy and what does he have to do with the cabin in the woods?

I found this story very endearing. Zoe is smart as a whip, with an attitude to back it up! When her and Henry are together you can sense how much they need each other despite both their attempts to deny it. In a spiral of unparalleled happiness Zoe, who has grown close to all the adults around her despite knowing better, comes to face the fact she has never really truly loved another human being before, not even her mother. Through out the book there are various passages written in the perspective of a feral cat that Zoe is trying to prove her trustworthiness too, obviously symbolic of the relationship between Zoe and Henry.

This is a great book for middle school and even upper elementary. Zoe's adventures and mystery of the wild child in the woods will keep them guessing. Read on!

Score: 4 points