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Wild Girls

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  403 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Daringly imagined, atmospheric, and original, Wild Girls is an exhilarating debut: part coming-of-age story and part supernatural tale about girls learning their own strength.

Kate Riordan fears two things as she grows up in the small Appalachian town of Swan River: that she'll be a frustrated townie forever or that she'll turn into one of the mysterious and terrifying wil
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Scribner (first published October 9th 2012)
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Community Reviews

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this is a piece of adult fiction that i think would probably find a more sympathetic readership amongst a YA audience.

because as allegory, as homeroom-doodle revenge fantasy, this has a lot of potential. it's all about the perceived powerlessness of teenage girls and what if some girls in this town had a switch that no one could see but every so often it would be flipped somehow and that girl would go buckwild with the flames and the flying and the unstoppable violence and everyone would be so
Lumpy Space Princess
Oh my glob, y'all! This was so freakin' hot! It's about this town with like, urban legends about creepy girls with superpowers and junk and can light things on fire… with their minds!! And the main girl, Kate, is afraid she's going to light things on fire, too! And Kate's always thinking about deep things like incipient adulthood and like puberty and junk… WITH HER MIND!!!!! I was sooo scared, you guys! And there were lots of hot boys that like, want to make out with our sassy heroine but she wo ...more
Why I wanted to read Wild Girls (from my Waiting on Wednesday post):

a coming-of-age story
set in a small Appalachian town
a brilliant twist on the anger teenage girls can feel at their powerlessness

Wild Girls exceeded any expectations that I had (which were pretty high). It wasn't the angst-filled drama that description led me to believe it to be. It is part mystery, part coming-of-age and very intense throughout. Anticipating when the wild girls may appear and what brought them about was enoug
Dec 22, 2012 Alexis rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
About 3.5 stars. At first I was a bit disappointed, because I didn't know where it was going, but then I got caught up in the story and the characters. The supernatural weirdness seems to jump out of nowhere. I felt the book was a bit uneven, but then I just got really into it.

Loved the descriptions of the Appalachian town, the female relationships and the way that the main character worries a lot about becoming evil, or getting stuck.

I'm a sucker for stories about teenage girls in boarding sch
I received this in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

"Wild Girls" by Mary Stewart Atwell is a coming of age story of a young girl in a small Appalachian town with two big fears; staying put for the rest of her life, or becoming a violent Wild Girl.

While I have read worse books, I didn't overly enjoy this story either. It was ok. I felt the characters were under developed, and a plot line that depended on the pecking order of teen girls. There wasn't a lot of build up towards understanding what ca
There are times when the serendipity offered up by the New Books shelf at the library causes me great joy, and there are times when it causes me to curse the day I ever learned to read. Today it's the latter. I am not sure what exactly I expected (something 70s, with free love, I think), but horror was certainly not on my list for today. I stay away from horror on purpose, mostly because it's, um, horrifying. I stuck with it for the first 150 pages, but then I started to skip and skim and peek t ...more
meredith ann
i read about this somewhere, i can't even remember where, and thought "if i see it, i'll read it!" then it popped up on the new fiction shelf at the library. i couldn't put it down once i started reading.

it blends folklore, burgeoning sexuality & realization of "womanhood", and the supernatural seamlessly. i feel that i can't go into too many details without giving a lot away but i felt a slight undercurrent of feminist ideology running throughout the book. the boys in the story are importa
Wild Girls is literary fiction that's actually easy to read. A completely original story by an author who obviously has a unique imagination. A book that would appeal to an older YA audience as well as adults. Atwell is adept at telling a story that gets you thinking in a teenage girl's voice. I went Hunh at the end, but in a good way. She does not tell a story in an obvious way, and there were moments that I had to re-read passages to get their meaning.

Pick it up if you like Curtis Settenfeld
Random House of Canada
I'm a huge fan of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep and when I heard that this was the comparison (but with spookier elements), I knew I had to read it!

Sitting in a Starbucks coffee shop, I read for two hours and was glued to my seat, because I was so enthralled with the plot of this book. If you're in the market for a great coming of age story, this book is for you!

- Lindsey
The girls of Swan River aren't just wild - they're murderous! Mary Stewart Atwell's debut novel is more than your average coming-of-age story: it's dark and creepy and fantastic - I'll definitely be keeping my eye on this author!
An interesting read. The explanation for the wild girls was satisfying but not solid.
Robbins Library
Wild Girls is narrated by Kate, who lives in a small Appalachian town called Swan River. Kate has only ever wanted to leave the town, and the fancy private school where her mother works is her ticket out - if she can keep safe from her greatest fear: turning into a wild girl. Swan River has a history of "wild girls," girls who go crazy and become murderers or arsonists. The Academy's new headmaster, Dr. Bell, is particularly interested in this phenomenon, as is Kate's studious friend Caroline, b ...more
[..]Per quasi tutto il libro sembra semplicemente di assistere ad una puntata di un telefilm per ragazzi, una sorta di "Kate's Swan River": Kate va a scuola, incontra le amiche con cui ha i soliti alti e bassi di tutte le sedicenni e Swan River è la classica cittadina con le sue comari, i suoi pettegoli e le sue finte maledizioni. Di tanto in tanto spunta fuori qualche particolare fantasy, qualche "stranezza" che ci fa capire che, si, stiamo leggendo un libro che, almeno secondo la casa editrice ...more
Like many generalizations, the one about literary vs. genre fiction is grounded in truth. In literary fiction, the protagonist is usually an extraordinary person dealing with ordinary circumstances, while in genre fiction the main character is usually an ordinary person dealing with extraordinary circumstances. By this trope, wild girls is clearly a genre novel. It has both feet firmly in the fantasy realm. The main character's life is ordinary. Although her surroundings are somewhat unusual in ...more
Scarlet Tartlet
Wild Girls is a dark Appalachian tale that winds along like the river within the town's story. At first glance, it resembles a creek, a bit rambling and narrow in focus. Perhaps because I attended the women's college most likely to be the basis for the main character's girls' high school, Swan River Academy--perhaps because of this, I was overly familiar with the mise en scene. Meant to build the river bed upon which the story flows, many of the quirky details of life at the Academy were instant ...more
There's something strange about country town Swan River. Over the course of multiple centuries, girls between the ages of sixteen and eighteen--"wild girls"--have committed horrific acts with dubious magical qualities. Kate Riordan is determined not to follow in the path of her sister and become a wild girl. She attends a good school and is set on a college path. However, the mysteries of Swan River call to Kate and her friend Willow, and their futures will be inextricably tangled with those of ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I fell in love with Sawn River and was fascinated by the Wild Girls. Mary S. Atwell did a brillant job with character development as well and the "love triangle" as this young coming-of-age novel is anything but typical. I cannot wait for my daughter to read it so we can talk about it! Bright 5 stars from me!

My rating system is as follows:

5 stars - Excellent, Worth Every Penny, Made It Into My Personal Library!
4 stars - Great book, but not a classic.
3 stars - Good overall, generally well writte
A fun and quirky novel about a teen girl who attends a snooty private academy, but hails from the small town where the academy is located. There's a legend in the town about "wild girls": girls who seemingly go insane and kill people out of the blue. The main character is afraid she will end up becoming a wild girl.

It's short read, not too deep but good for escapism reading.
Mary Bokkon
It thought it was great, very atmospheric, and it reminded me a bit of Elizabeth Hand's /Waking the Moon/ in a good and non-derivative way. I agree with what some others have said, that it feels more like YA than "adult fiction."

My only complaint is the ending feels rushed--it's a first novel, though, so you gotta kind of give her pass... I would have given it five stars, but those last few starts moving too fast, doing too much.

I especially like Mason. He's good stuff. ;-) Plus,
Elizabeth S
I am reading this book and it's exciting and entertaining! I always judge the cover of books before I read them and I judged this one. I choosen to read it though cause one of my friends told me it would be a good book. Totally should read if your in for excitement. :)
Lolly LKH
Wild Girls, we all are in our own way... This coming of age novel is tinged with the supernatural and violence. What I liked is that the characters had a bit of life to them and Kate, while wanting to both love and hate Willow,isn't your typical wallflower as you see in most stories like these. Willow opens her world while also leading her to a dangerous place. What wasn't I fond of? The ending- it felt abrupt and left me saying 'huh' but I still enjoyed the story. I would love to see how this a ...more
I didn't mind the plot being a little weird and supernatural at first because the author kept me interested all the way until about chapter 13 and then it just went downhill. A really disappointing ending.
Started off okay. I like the premise. But it never did clenched together. Still not exactly sure what the book was about.
It is rare to pick up a novel about which you know nothing and discover a really great book.
I inhaled this book last night even though I was quite tired and needed to get to sleep. And after finishing it, I had nightmares of things collapsing all around me. To keep up a mother with young kids, and then to squirm into her subconscious, are both neat tricks. This author writes with a sense of voice & character that gives her a certain authority, so as readers we accept whatever crazy thing comes next down the pike. I do wish she had pushed the allegorical (almost wrote allegirlical!) ...more
The small Appalachian town of Swan River is of no interest to teen Kate Riordan. She cannot wait to graduate and get out of there. She also wants no part of the town’s fabled wild girls, teen girls who kill with fire.

As she attempts to better herself at the town’s exclusive Swan River Academy, Kate becomes entangled with males and females who may prove to be dangerous. Why, wonders Kate, is it so hard to leave this place unscathed?

Kate’s ambitions, the town’s lore, and the wild girls themselves
Erica Morris
This book was wonderful! Creepy, frightening and also a coming of age story all rolled into one.
Pretty sure I'm not the target demographic for this one. Kind of Gossip Girl meets horror.

Kate is a townie who cinderellas her way into the Swan River Academy, where she tries to to fit in and tries not to think about the town curse--where young girls turn into berserkers and no one knows why. Against the odds, she becomes friends with Willow, the "it" girl.

She also meets Mason, a boy from the hippie commune on the wrong side of the tracks, and he comes into her world with not so good results.
for a first time novelist, this book is quite unexpectedly powerful. I liked it, and I suspect in time that I will re read and love it. like many authors I am currently reading, this book had a LOT of promise, and I am looking forward to future works by ms. atwell.
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“Each book was like an underwater cave, and when I rose again to the surface, I was pale and grumpy, resentful of everyone who hadn't been where I'd been.” 11 likes
“The wild girl is with me always; she is my rage and my hunger, and if I live what passes for a decent life in this world, it is because I know to say no to the thing inside me that yearns, even now, to burn it all down.” 3 likes
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