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Wild and Crooked

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  59 ratings  ·  41 reviews
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
Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: June 4th 2019 by Bloomsbury
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4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  59 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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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 love books with representation and covers that look like this one

(thanks to bloomsbury for the arc)
Feb 05, 2019 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Melanie by: Alexis (TheSlothReader)
The mention of pan characters summons me.

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Elise (TheBookishActress)
Oct 28, 2017 marked it as releases-2019
Shelves: coverporn
...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

⚔ Silvia ⚓
Jan 04, 2018 marked it as anticipated-2019
Shelves: 2019-june
A lesbian girl and a pan guy become friends is the book we need
Thank you, Bloomsbury!
The synopsis of this sounds hella interesting. I have been living for this type of story lately...

Melanie (TBR and Beyond)
“He turns so freaking pink. Look, I’m pretty queer, but hell if blushing boys aren’t the cutest thing since frolicking kittens.”

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
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
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-star
This book is probably going to be great for certain readers, but the writing and humor style in this book did not mesh with me in the slightest.

I also was not expecting such an integral mystery plotline in this book. This isn't necessarily bad, but I was hoping for more exploration of the justice system in relation to the central case and more discussion of how criminality/murder affects those in close proximity. Instead, the story focuses more on solving the case, and the reader doesn't really
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
4.5 stars

This story was everything I hoped it would be. I cannot wait to write my review but I need a couple of days to process my thoughts.

***HUGE Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending an ARC in exchange for my honest review.***


Full review can be found here:

This book caught me off guard in the best way possible. The premise alone had my full attention, but the delivery of the story is what really captivated me. I struggled with Leah’s last story b
Apr 04, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: contemporary, ya
this takes place in my home state & is by one of my faaav authors. I’m down.
Gosh, this is great. Quirky, different and full of interesting characters.

But also sad.

Review to come.
Leah (Jane Speare)
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is not a love story. But it is a story full of love. Kalyn's father is in prison for murdering Gus’s own father decades ago in the rural town of "Shitsboro." This small town harbors deep rooted prejudices, and old disputes run strong. Equal parts laugh-out-loud funny and dead serious, this story heralds no apology in its execution. The vibrant Kalyn and warmhearted Gus become friends despite the surrounding politics of their families, and they aren’t afraid of searching for what really happ ...more
Celia McMahon
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Bloomsbury for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

WILD AND CROOKED, like the last book I read of Leah's WHEN LIGHT LEFT US, was stunning. I went in thinking one thing and getting another. I love books like that. It's like reaching into a Halloween bucket of candy and coming out with the peanut butter cup prize.

This story follows three POV's, but mainly the focus is on two. Gus, who has cerebral palsy, and Kayln, who is the daughter of a murderer. The two kid
This book is definitely different and a little bit weird and the pacing didn't necessarily work for me but the characters are really what make it worth reading. There's some really great representation in the book and it's also not a romance. A friendship develops between the main two characters that shows that we really need more platonic relationships as the focus in books. Especially YA books. Gus and Kalyn are two people who most definitely should not be friends. But when they do start to fo ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
Wild and Crooked was a really good read overall, I loved the different point of views and how flawed, complex and human each character felt to me, too. I really liked the developing friendship between Kalyn and Gus, the no-romance, the underlying mystery and the complex family relationships and history, too, and yay for diversity too! Definitely a good read! :)

Full review coming soon!

Thank you to Bloomsbury & NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, influenced my thoug
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've loved every single thing Leah Thomas has written and this was no exception. The characters were so real and complicated and their friendships were my favorite thing. The true crime/murder mystery-aspect kept me turning pages at all hours and I was sad to put this one down.
Phoebe Dyer
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is my first Leah Thomas book and now I need to go read her entire backlist. The writing, the story, the characters, SO GOOD!
Amanda Shepard (Between-the-Shelves)
Read my full review at!

I received an advanced copy of this to review from Bloomsbury, and it was so much more than I was expecting! There is so much representation in this book, from disability to sexuality. And there’s a friendship between a girl and a boy that has no hint of romance at all. They’re just friends! How often do you see that in a young adult book?

Kalyn and Gus narrate the majority of the book, with Gus’s best friend Phil added in at the end. Between the thr
The Bookish Austin
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Review to come! :)
Nia •ShadesOfPaper•
Thank you Macmillan and Bloomsbury YA for the ARC
S.M. Parker
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I want every one of the characters in this book to be my friends and if the author could bring them to my door, that would be perfection. Please and thank you. This book has a fiercely feminist protag, an amazing cast and so much love and sustainable hope that my heart burst. Three times or more. Wild and Crooked is an extraordinary novel that delivers an authentic glimpse into the lives of some seriously spectacular teens. This story should not be missed.
Kavanand (Reading for Two)
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-releases
In the small town of Samsboro, Kentucky, a high school golden boy named James Ellis was murdered by another high school student, Gary Spence. Seventeen years later, the son of the murdered boy and the daughter of the murderer meet and become friends.

Gus Peake and Kalyn Spence have both had rough childhoods. Gus's dad was murdered when he mother was only a few months pregnant. He was born with cerebral palsy, and his disability and his tragic backstory are all that anyone in his small town sees w
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-2020
The story is set in small town Samsboro, Kentucky aka Shitsboro. Can one ever break free from the secrets of a long-ago crime? Meet Kalyn Spence suffering from the stigma of a father who committed a brutal murder when he was a teen. Still today, Samsboro’s citizens won’t get over the unforgettable crime. Now Kalyn enrolls there in school under a false name to avoid the anger that would rain down upon her family.
Meet Gue, the kid known as disabled with cerebral Palsy or the kid whose dad was mur
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. That is the only word I have after finish reading this book. The friendship between the two main characters is absolutely stunning and I love how one brings the better parts of the other. My heart broken at parts and the way both their families were presented. It was refreshing seeing two different points of view being presented and how they carried the same problem differently. I appreciate how identity, lgbtq+ and disabilities were represented in this book. I loved everything about ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had the opportunity to read an advance e-copy of Wild and Crooked that I received free from Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, through NetGalley. Here are my thoughts about it...all of which are my own opinions. :)

If you're looking for a diverse book, with LGBTQ or disability representation, add this one to your TBR. This story is about friendship, and discovery and doing the right thing when it's rough.

It's NOT about romance. Neither of the main characters are straight. Here's a quote from the
Terri Grief
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked the characters of Kalyn and Gus. Their friendship should not have been possible since her father was in prison for killing his father, but they bond in the sweetest way. Kalyn definitely is not a sweet person but Gus brings out the best in her. Gus has cerebral palsy and Kalyn helps him be stronger.
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
There's enough swearing and the issues are complex enough that this is probably best for high school. I'd have no qualms about giving it to mature 8th graders with a warning about language/themes. One m.c. is pansexual and the other is a lesbian. And it's not a romance! Yay for an LGBTQ friendship story!
Jenni Frencham
I loved the concept of this book and the queer representation, but the writing style was both uninteresting and off-putting, so it wasn't an enjoyable read for me. I would probably still buy it for my library if the teens requested it, but I won't be prioritizing this one.
Carrie Mccullough Jenkins
It isn't often that a YA novel carries a universal message, but this book does. I can't say it enough in agreement... love is love is love.
Giselle Monique
Feb 12, 2019 marked it as to-read
A platonic queer book? I'm here for it. We need this.
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Leah Thomas once wrote from a house in the woods, and now an apartment more or less by the sea (well, less). Her debut novel BECAUSE YOU'LL NEVER MEET ME was a 2016 Morris Award finalist, and its sequel, NOWHERE NEAR YOU, is out now from Bloomsbury. Her third YA science fiction novel, WHEN LIGHT LEFT US, hit shelves this February.

A graduate of Clarion 2010, her short fiction has appeared in Asimo