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Wild Bird

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  4,777 ratings  ·  877 reviews
3:47 a.m. That's when they come for Wren Clemens. 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 any more. This is wilderness therapy camp.

The Wren who arrives in the Utah desert is angry and b
Advance Readers Copy, 311 pages
Published by Knopf (first published September 5th 2017)
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Vicki It's pretty tame, despite the premise of a wayward teen whose new friends led her astray - lying, stealing, using pot. Other than flashbacks from thos…moreIt's pretty tame, despite the premise of a wayward teen whose new friends led her astray - lying, stealing, using pot. Other than flashbacks from those days, the story mostly focuses on her redemption and change of character during this wilderness rehabilitation program.(less)
avishi :D wren calls him mogli, mo, or mo-bro, but his name is morris

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,777 ratings  ·  877 reviews

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Caradith Craven
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I'm blindfolded for what feels like an hour, jostled around on a dirt road, breathing in dust, feeling like I'm on a sketchy version of Disneyland's Raiders of the Lost Ark ride. Like in another turn we might go crashing down a mountain. Then I remind myself. We're in the desert. The flat, ugly desert."

I recently received an ARC for Wild Bird, and I spent three hours crying, laughing, cheering, tensing up, shouting, and saying WOW over and over again as I read this incredibly honest, powerful,
Richie Partington
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, box13
Richie’s Picks: WILD BIRD by Wendelin Van Draanen, Random House/Alfred A. Knopf, September 2017, 320p., ISBN: 978-1-101-94044-0

“You got a lotta nerve
To say you are my friend”
-- Bob Dylan, “Positively 4th Street” (1965)

“We start near some green plants at the base of a rocky area and work our way up to a small pool of rainwater trapped in the rocks. ‘Since it’s rainwater and pretty fresh, you can just drink it,’ she tells me. ‘The water we’ll get from under the riverbed we have to filter and purif
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this because it was so unexpected. I loved the humor. This book had me laughing out loud more than once. I loved the MC's sarcasm and her obliviousness to the feelings of others. It was really funny. I also liked Wren's journey as she went through her forced 8 week ordeal at a wilderness therapy camp in the Utah desert.

The author added many little touches that added heart and insight throughout the story. For example, the relationship Wren had with her little brother was sweet, the way
Oct 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
I found this recommended on a Newbery blog about six months ago, and I have no idea why. Like Vincent and Theo, I don't see it fit the age bracket at all. My first two potential Newbery reads are therefore 0-2 (much like the Yankees this ALDS), and I'd be kinda depressed if not for Patina. (Patina is SO GREAT.)

Anyway, I found this to be overwritten (decent pacing, though!) but mostly, I found this spectacularly, insultingly unbelievable. Eight weeks?!
Allison Bean
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Made me cry! Loved it!
Reading Relish
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amber  ~ The Reading Addict
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing

“Out here Mother Nature is my judge and jury, and no amount of objecting or redirecting or even being out of order will get me out of this. The only way to survive my sentence is to serve it.”

I truly, truly enjoyed this novel. Having been through extremely tough experiences with people who are very similar to Wren and her fellow "inmates," Wild Bird touched me in a much deeper way that I expected it to. Van Draanen crafts a story that delves deeply into what makes us hurt and angry, as well
Jen Ryland
Wren is 14 and is hanging out with friends who do drugs and shoplift. Her parents have tried everything and, as the book opens, she is dragged out of bed and taken to the airport to travel to a therapeutic wilderness program.

This book follows the same pattern as similar stories I'm familiar with (Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein, and to a lesser degree, This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes) but I guess that's sort of the point. Wren went from closed and angry and blaming o
#mystrangereading Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I loved loved loved this book. Wren goes through such an incredibly powerful journey of growth, healing and forgiveness. I love the honesty of her journey; I love the Native American influences, and I really enjoyed listening to this on @audible_com because I felt like it added to the story-telling aspect of her journey. If you enjoy realistic fiction and like stories of healing and empowerment, this read should be on your list! #boo ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was sooooooooooo good. Like so good.

-It's placed in a middle school setting and I think it relates to a lot of people. Not that people (view spoiler) It just shows everyday decisions middle school-ers have to make, effecting their life.
-Schools has Meadow's & Nico's. Lots.
-The comparisons in this book are just so well put.
-The book just flowed so, so well.

-Some parts were har
Jessica (The Psychotic Nerd)
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

Actual Rating: 3.5

Short and Simple Review
This book features a teenage girl, Wren, being forced by her parents to attend a Utah wilderness camp after she gets into the wrong crowd. The book immediately starts with Wren being taken in the very early morning with no clue what is happening. There's a lot of denial on her part, and anger. Throughout a large part of the beginning, Wren yells at everyone and whines for help, not that I blame
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story resonated with me, broke my heart, and made me hopeful despite the knowledge that such endings are not always the case. A 14 year old girl who has dug herself into a hole of alcohol and drug abuse with the aberrant behaviors that often accompany those habits is sent to a wilderness therapy program in Utah. There she faces her truths and her perceptions of her relationships, while forging new relationships with others and the surrounding wilderness. I loved it.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another solid read from Wendelin Van Draanen. As with The Running Dream, there's no profanity or sex in this book, which means despite the difficult subject matter (drug abuse), I wouldn't have any qualms about allowing my just-turned-thirteen-year-old to read it. Wren is a compelling character, and her journey toward maturity and recovery feels real, and yet is hopeful and inspiring. ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was beyond amazing. I love the style of writing plus it has a heart breaking story. The character growth is remarkable and I absolutely love the ending; it made me cry tears of joy.
I definitely recommend this book and I will be reading more of this author in the near future.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
The trope of the mysterious Native American - in touch with the land, tells folksy legends and leads people on desert quests to find themselves - soured this one for me.
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wren is a troubled teen who falls down the pit of drugs, hating her parents, her sister, etc. It's the typical "it's everybody else's fault, certainly not mine" story. So her parents arrange for her to be taken to a wilderness camp in the Utah desert - a place for troubled kids.

I love Wendelin Van Draanen's books - she's an amazing writer. She tackles difficult issues with grace and realism, always adding a touch of humor. She always leaves room for growth of her characters. I found myself want
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was really not expecting to like this book as much as I did and still do. wow. review to come
Aryana Parmar
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-caudills
This was definitely an interesting journey with Wren, the main character. I enjoyed how she found her true self. A very inspiring story and I definitely recommend for 12+!
Jennifer Whitt
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gr. 7+ but loved this story of resilience, overcoming challenges and forgiveness.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wild Bird is a fascinating and powerful read that grips you from the first page, when the kidnapping happens. Even though Wren has her own richly detailed story, I kept identifying with her again and again - the writing in this book leads us through one genuinely eye-opening scene after another, using many moments I have never had in real life but found thrilling to experience through Wren. And though there are great, searingly insightful lessons to learn in this book, it is never preachy - Wild ...more
Joyce Yattoni
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Happy to see that our librarian added this novel to our audio collection at school. I listened to this and I loved the first person narration and the whines from 14 year old "Wren" as she is shoveled off to the desert in Utah to tame her risky and harmful behavior. She did get on my nerves in the beginning with all her whining and complaining, as she comes off as a self-absorbed and selfish teenager. However, as Wren works through her problems, the reader/listener learns to empathize with her as ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will be reading more books by this author. I'm not sure what genre to label this book. On one hand it was a 14 year old sent to the Utah desert because she was out of control. On the other hand, I learned so much about what goes on in the head of a teenager. I wish I would have read this when my kids were young.
It was nice because it was clean and well written. I never was bored.
This author has several books along this line and I think I will be reading those as well.
Agata Wilusz
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I had really high hopes for this novel since I enjoyed The Running Dream so much, but it just fell short for me. I had a hard time connecting to Wren, the main character, and felt that the action was moving very slowly.
Wren is a troubled teen, who has made many poor decisions, which has led her parents to ship her off to 'boot camp' in the middle if the desert.
I've enjoyed this read. About a teen who decides to follow the wrong crowd and starts to make wrong choices. Parents are fed up and dont know what else to do, so they send her to a wilderness camp to hopefully help get her act together. It was a fun fast funny read.
Martha Schwalbe
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Utah desert setting was easy to visualize. Wren's high school story reminded me of a couple of students I've taught and I wonder if they were able to find an answer to "Who Am I?"
I would recommend this book to students who enjoy books about troubled teens and teen life. No suicide, no sexual abuse, but lots of anger, hatred, and blame.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm about halfway through my reading of the 2020 list of Rebecca Caudill nominees and I had previously thought I had already read the eventual winner. But upon reading Wild Bird, I think I might have to re-evaluate!

Wren is a troubled teen who has gotten mixed up in drinking and drugs. When her parents have finally had enough, they send her to a desert rehabilitation camp. At first Wren is angry, very sad, and resistant to any of they help they try to give her. Only through time might it be possi
Hailey Woessner
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was my favorite book of all time. I really liked that throughout the book, you can see that Wren is realizing her mistakes in the past and now her character grows to be a much better person. I also loved the random flashbacks and backstories to fill us in on why her parents sent her to the desert and how she became the person she was at the beginning of camp. Character development was a big thing in this book and I really enjoyed it.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a great tale of perseverance, assuming responsibility, and self-acceptance. Wren thinks she's had it rough and that all of her problems are the fault of others. Sometimes it takes a true quest to find one's self, and she does. VanDraanen does a wonderful job of guiding her readers through the journey. ...more
Mar 30, 2021 added it
Note to self: don't read books on your tbr just for the sake of reading them, especially when you really don't feel like reading that particular book

I originally gave this a 2.5 rating but I'm removing it entirely because any rating would be disingenuous to what the book deserves
Krista De Las Alas
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Super short teen book. It was pretty juvenile but I like the overall message. It reminded me a little of “Wild”, and I liked the growth she experienced. I kinda feel like all teens should go through this experience even if they aren’t “trouble” children.
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Wendelin Van Draanen has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes series, and wrote Flipped which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ, and became a Warner Brothers feature film with Rob Reiner directing. Her novel The Running Dream was awarded ALA’s Schneider Family Award for its portrayal o ...more

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