Wild and Crooked

Wild and Crooked

Critically acclaimed author Leah Thomas blends a small-town setting with the secrets of a long-ago crime, in a compelling novel about breaking free from the past.In Samsboro, Kentucky, Kalyn Spence's name is inseparable from the brutal murder her father committed when he was a teenager. Forced to return to town, Kalyn must attend school under a pseudonym . . . or face the...

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Title:Wild and Crooked
Author:Leah Thomas
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Wild and Crooked Reviews

  • Vicky Who Reads

    I loved this so much &

    !!!! Murder mystery and rural towns and not only queer teens, but (so many) QUEER ADULTS TOO. Discussions on poverty & small towns which I loved.

    Also, I've seen reviewers say stuff about pan rep and after reading, I don't believe the MCs are pan.

    Kalyn is lesbian (says it explicitly) and Gus is gay/questioning, and Gus also has cerebral palsy & aphasia. He struggles with one of his arms (the right, I believe) &

    I loved this so much &

    !!!! Murder mystery and rural towns and not only queer teens, but (so many) QUEER ADULTS TOO. Discussions on poverty & small towns which I loved.

    Also, I've seen reviewers say stuff about pan rep and after reading, I don't believe the MCs are pan.

    Kalyn is lesbian (says it explicitly) and Gus is gay/questioning, and Gus also has cerebral palsy & aphasia. He struggles with one of his arms (the right, I believe) & his foot, so he has a limp, always uses a foot brace, and occasionally uses a cane on bad days.

  • Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    .

    This book is an absolute can't-miss. That is it, you need to read it. It is so wonderfully quirky and completely full of heart. There is diversity bursting at the damn seams, and it features one of the best platonic friendships I have ever had the pleasure to read about. There's discussion about a crapton of social issues that are really important for kids to read about. Gus and Kalyn's

    .

    This book is an absolute can't-miss. That is it, you need to read it. It is so wonderfully quirky and completely full of heart. There is diversity bursting at the damn seams, and it features one of the best platonic friendships I have ever had the pleasure to read about. There's discussion about a crapton of social issues that are really important for kids to read about. Gus and Kalyn's families both play such a huge part in the book too, and their stories are equally important.  I am keeping this short and sweet because there isn't much more to say- it's so much about the evolving relationship and debunking stereotypes. You just need to experience the thing, okay? Great.

    Bottom Line: You need Gus and Kalyn in your life so... go forth and obtain them!

  • Melanie (TBR and Beyond)

    Did I just read a book with healthy sexual and disability representation and a completely platonic friendship between a female and male? Why yes, yes I think I might have.

    Wild and Crooked follows two young people. One is a young woman named Kayln, whose father is in prison for murdering a man when she was a baby. The other is young man named Gus, whose father was th

    Did I just read a book with healthy sexual and disability representation and a completely platonic friendship between a female and male? Why yes, yes I think I might have.

    Wild and Crooked follows two young people. One is a young woman named Kayln, whose father is in prison for murdering a man when she was a baby. The other is young man named Gus, whose father was the one that happened to have been murdered by Kalyn’s father when he was just a baby. Kayln has moved back to her hometown, which means the town that her father committed the crime at and starts back at highschool under a different identity. She soon befriends Gus, not knowing he is the son of the man her father murdered and they become very close friends. Obviously, once they find out who the other is, problems are had and need to be figured out and to put an even bigger wrench in things, it turns out that Kayln’s father might be innocent so now they are also searching for what really happened the night both their father’s life essentially ended.

    We get a lot of amazing representation in this book. Gus has Cerebral Palsy, I do not have this disability so I cannot speak on the complete accuracy of it but I can talk as someone who is chronically ill and the feelings that he expresses and the role he takes because of how society acts towards him often. I thought it was done authentically, sometimes brutally but completely sensitively. I also loved that this was not the focus on Gus’s story, it was a part of him – it was never ignored but it also didn’t get turned into something for an able person to become a hero from. Thank god. Wild and Crooked also has very strong sexuality representation, while this book has ZERO romance, Gus is pansexual and Kayln is a lesbian. It is talked about and discussed but again, it’s not made a huge deal of – it’s just who they are and they love and accept each other for it instantly. It made my heart so very happy to see this beautiful, flawed, PLATONIC friendhsip between Gus and Kayln.

    We also get a third character into the mix more and more as the story goes on and that is Phillip, and he’s an oddball. He’s incredible socially awkward and talks as though everything is a movie or a role-playing game – it’s the only way he can relate. No, he does not have Autism – it is noted in the book that he didn’t quite make the cut but he did have a head injury as a child and that seems to have affected him. I don’t want to say too much about him, he’s a very interesting character – love him or hate him, again he feels pretty real.

    This contemporary story won’t be for everyone. I think we’ll see a lot of people DNFing it actually. This is completely character driven. Yes, there is a murder mystery plot going on and at times it does get a bit tense and you will probably never guess it all until it all gets revealed near the end but it’s not the heart of the book. The heart of the book is these characters and their lives and their growth and relationships. It also clocks in at over 400 pages, so if you aren’t into character driven books – this isn’t going to be for you. I thought it was incredible, I feel completely in love with these characters and the disability representation in particular just meant so much to me. If you think this one sounds like something you might enjoy then be sure to check it out!

    Thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for an e-arc of this novel, in exchange for my honest review.

  • Alana • thebookishchick

    murder, lynching, mention of abortion, homophobic comments

    Even though this book took me a while to get through, thanks to my reading slump, I still enjoyed this a whole lot. This is a story of finding friendship in the most unlikely of people, exploring your identity, and a whodunit all wrapped in one! One of the nicest things about this book was for once th

    murder, lynching, mention of abortion, homophobic comments

    Even though this book took me a while to get through, thanks to my reading slump, I still enjoyed this a whole lot. This is a story of finding friendship in the most unlikely of people, exploring your identity, and a whodunit all wrapped in one! One of the nicest things about this book was for once there was no romance. You read that right, folks. No romance here, just friendship. And I am here for it. Plus, there is a great range of representation in this book that makes this book all the more lovable.

    Kaylyn Spence might be your average high school girl...if her last name wasn't Spence, that is. Daughter of a murderer and hated in the town of Samsboro, Kaylyn, finds herself back at home using a false name at school to get by without being tormented by the students and citizens of her tiny hometown. Surprisingly enough, her made up persona fairs well with the students and soon she finds her way climbing the social ladder. However, Kaylyn finds this to be exhausting and makes a friend she can be her true self with, or so she thinks. Little does she know her new friend's father is the exact man Kaylyn 's dad murdered.

    Gus Peake feels as though he's never really fit in. Whether it be his cerebral palsy, speech impediment, or the fact that town automatically pities him since the death of his father, he can't catch a break. Until the day he meets Kaylyn, who treats him as if he isn't a fragile piece of glass like everyone else and has no idea who his father is. For that reason alone Gus and Kaylyn instantly hit it off as friends until both of the pasts come back to haunt them.

    One of the things that I loved about this story was that even though Kaylyn and Gus have every right to hate each other after their families pasts are revealed they still chose not too. And instead chose to begin their own investigation of sorts as new evidence proves that Kaylyn's father may not be the murderer. Kaylyn, Gus, and Gus' long time best friend Phil start to hunt for answers that may have been covered up and never meant to be found out. I have to say it does get a ugly along the way, with scenes of the citizens of Samsboro lynching what appears to be made up body topped with Kaylyn's father's mugshot as it's head. Drinks, fists, and slurs are all thrown towards Kaylyn, Gus, and Phil, which are all for the most part challenged, but it definitely still got ugly at times

    As far as the representation in this book, I have to say I was very pleased with it. Gus suffers from cerebral palsy, and even though I can't personally speak on behalf of the representation, I still think that is was handled very well. That's specifically coming from my medical experience working with patients with CP. People have also mentioned that Gus is pansexual, and while I didn't read any on page confirmation of this, Gus does question his sexual identity throughout the story. Gus also has two mom's which was hella heart-warming to read throughout this. Kaylyn, is a lesbian which is confirmed throughout the book multiple times. All of this just worked so well for the character's, their arc's, and the plot itself.

    The only issue I had with the book was the pacing. The beginning and the end were interesting enough but the middle seemed to lag before we got to the revelations of Gus' father's murder. I found myself having to push through the middle more often than not hoping the end would be worth it. And while I did like the way the story ended, I can't say I was 100% sold on these giant revelations. At least I didn't guess the ending for once though!

    All in all, this was definitely a refreshing story to change things up. Especially if you're looking for a book that is purely built on friendship and no romance. There are so many important life topics touched upon in this book that make a perfect contemporary read for the summer!

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  • Brittany Lamb

    This was so different from what I expected it to be but in the best way possible. I don’t even want to mumble on about what the book is about, because you can clearly read that from the synopsis. Instead, I’m going to tell you what you don’t know just from reading the synopsis.

    This book has some great representation. Both of our main characters are queer (Gus is pansexual and Kalyn is a lesbian) but that’s (thankfully) never the focus of the story. They just are and it’s not some big plot twist

    This was so different from what I expected it to be but in the best way possible. I don’t even want to mumble on about what the book is about, because you can clearly read that from the synopsis. Instead, I’m going to tell you what you don’t know just from reading the synopsis.

    This book has some great representation. Both of our main characters are queer (Gus is pansexual and Kalyn is a lesbian) but that’s (thankfully) never the focus of the story. They just are and it’s not some big plot twist to shake up the reader. Kalyn is open about liking girls very early on and Gus is a little confused but coming to terms with it nonetheless. There are also some other queer characters but I’m not going to ruin it all for you. In addition to this, Gus has cerebral palsy. This is definitely a part of his story line, but it doesn’t make up who he is. At least, he’s learning that. The representation just felt very realistic.

    The characters are all flawed but not because of the way they were written. They are imperfect because that is just the reality of human beings. While I felt like Kalyn’s role was a bit cliche, I still liked everyone. Since this story is told through different POVs, each person really added to the story and no one really felt underdeveloped to me. Each person existed as a part of the whole story, instead of as a supporting character that simply weaves in and out conveniently.

    The book is very easy to follow along with, but in the beginning, I have to say that I was a little underwhelmed. Not much happens for the first quarter of the book, but once it finally got into the good stuff, I really enjoyed the read. I was not expecting there to be any type of mystery in this, because the synopsis clearly states that one kid’s father was murdered and that the other kid’s father was the one doing the murdering. Seems pretty clear cut… right? I figured that this was going to be a story about the two of them overcoming what happened between their parents, if at all possible. You get some of that for sure, but there’s a lot more to this story, too.

    The pacing was done really well besides the beginning dragging for me a bit. I really enjoyed Leah Thomas’ writing style. I can seriously appreciate her ability to switch between three very different voices and still make it all flow together well. I also love that the relationship between Kalyn and Gus was completely platonic but still so important throughout the novel.

    It’s hard to review a book when you enjoyed it, but overall, I thought it was great. It is not at all what you would expect it to be, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Leah Thomas wrote a story that is completely unpredictable and I think that that is something to be treasured. If you enjoy well written contemporaries with good representation and interesting plot twists, I’d definitely recommend this to you. It’s an easy, enjoyable read. Also…. that cover!!!

  • megs_bookrack

    This is the story of a friendship.

    Kalyn Spence and Gus Peake.

    Two kids whose stories were tragically intertwined before they even knew each other.

    Kalyn's Dad is in prison, accused of murdering Gus's Dad. When Kalyn moves to Samsboro, into her paternal Grandmother's home, she is forced to attend school under an alias for fear of repercussions if people know she is a Spence.

    She tries to fly under the radar but finds her new found persona exhausting. She befriends Gus, who definitely

    This is the story of a friendship.

    Kalyn Spence and Gus Peake.

    Two kids whose stories were tragically intertwined before they even knew each other.

    Kalyn's Dad is in prison, accused of murdering Gus's Dad. When Kalyn moves to Samsboro, into her paternal Grandmother's home, she is forced to attend school under an alias for fear of repercussions if people know she is a Spence.

    She tries to fly under the radar but finds her new found persona exhausting. She befriends Gus, who definitely stands out in a crowd, and finds his honesty and quiet demeanor refreshing.

    Gus has lived in Samsboro his whole life with his Mom, who has never fully recovered from the loss of his father, and her wife, Tamara. Gus, who has cerebral palsy, spends most of his time with his best friend, Phil, but longs for a bigger life outside of Samsboro.

    Once Gus and Kalyn begin spending time together, they grow close quickly and are both shocked when they discover how they are connected.

    A platonic bond that is truthful and sweet and exactly what the world needs. I really enjoyed reading them together.

    Soon the kids are uncovering long-held, small-town secrets and exposing evidence that has never before been brought to light. Part mystery, part coming of age, part exploration of identity, this book will not fail to touch your soul.

    I don't think Leah Thomas could have fit more hard-hitting topics in here if she tried!

    Identity, perceptions, reality, love, hate, forgiveness;

    . The characters are great. I loved Kalyn and Gus both so much and even Phil, self-proclaimed antisocial personality disorder and all.

    I was pleasantly surprised when the book took a mysterious turn and the kids started their own investigation. I had a lot of fun reading that aspect of the story.

    I need more people to read this and be talking about it. I think there is a lot of really great rep in here and the various stories were so honestly told. It was really moving. So, yeah, if you are into Contemporary, pick this one up! It's so worth it!!!

    Thank you so much to the publisher, Bloomsbury, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to reading more from this author!

  • emma

    I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but I think that if the cover looks like this one, and also the main characters are two completely platonic best friends, and one is a pan girl and one is a gay guy and the girl’s dad is in prison for murder and the guy has cerebral palsy, then there’s an exception.

    My belief in that exception made me really excited for this book, but unfortunately I felt completely meh about it. Presumably because I am cursed.

    A lot of this about this book - the ch

    I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but I think that if the cover looks like this one, and also the main characters are two completely platonic best friends, and one is a pan girl and one is a gay guy and the girl’s dad is in prison for murder and the guy has cerebral palsy, then there’s an exception.

    My belief in that exception made me really excited for this book, but unfortunately I felt completely meh about it. Presumably because I am cursed.

    A lot of this about this book - the characterization, the core friendship, the backstories - felt really rushed. And it’s hard to feel anything but meh about a book when you’re like wait, how did we get here? It’s the end of the book? But I haven’t FELT anything yet!

    This is a suuuper character-driven book, and I never felt like I knew the characters beyond kind of cartoonish surface-level stuff. They felt more like archetypes (dare I say stereotypes) more than people.

    Which was a major bummer.

    Bottom line: I really, really, reallyyyy super duper wanted to like this. But I didn’t feel much about it at all.

    --------------

    is there someone I can speak to about the phenomenon of feeling completely meh about books I was excited for?? because I've gotta tell ya, I'm pretty goddamn sick of it!!!!

    review to come

    --------------

    all you need is

    books with representation and covers that look like this one

    (thanks to bloomsbury for the arc)

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    ...uh. this could be cool, but comparing a book starring a friendship between a guy and a girl to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe seems kind of... did this blurb writer actually read Ari&Dante

    edit: NOPE Y'ALL THEY'RE BOTH QUEER WE GOOD WE GOOD WE GOOD

  • ⚔ Silvia ⚓

    A lesbian girl and a pan guy become friends is the book we need

  • Nia •ShadesOfPaper•

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