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Wild and Crooked

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  109 ratings  ·  61 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
Published June 4th 2019 by Bloomsbury
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  109 ratings  ·  61 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)
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
Vicky Who Reads
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this so much & Leah Thomas really did not disappoint with this!!!! 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) &
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
Nia •ShadesOfPaper•
Thank you Macmillan and Bloomsbury YA for the ARC
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
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 of Wild and Crooked available on my blog.

Thank you to Bloomsbury & NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book. This did not, in
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
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
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
McKinlay Dennis
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*I received an ARC from edelweiss and the publisher. this does not affect my review.*

Wow. this book was a RIDE! It was much more mystery than I was expecting, so obviously I don't want to say too much. But my goodness it was so refreshing to read a book about a m/f friendship that was never anything else.

I'd recommend this to someone who likes Courtney Summers, but would like to feel a little more hope, and to laugh.

Btw, I know i've seen a lot of people talk about pansexual rep in this. I'm gues
This story is so packed with unique, fully formed personalities and life paths. At the center of their existence is a tragic crime that has not only divided families but the town they live in.   ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀  ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Crass Kalyn has grown up in the family owned salvage yard and the bond she forms with Gus, the kid on the other side of the issue is sweet and strong. I looooooooove that this highlights how you can be in love with your friends yet not romantically. I don’t think I’ve ever come a
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.
The Bookish Austin
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Check it out - link to my review:
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: high-school
Interest Level: YA

Imagine that your dad is from a small town and is in jail for murdering the high school All-American jock. Now imagine that you and your mom have to move to this small town to take care of your grandmother who has fallen ill. You are going to have to go to the same small high school that your dad and the kid who was murdered went to. Kalyn Spence and her mom move to the extremely small town of Samsboro, Kentucky. Kalyn is used to being an outspoken rebel but when she has to go
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was fortunate enough to receive a Netgalley ARC of Leah Thomas’ Wild and Crooked, the story of two star-crossed friends in a small Kentucky town. Kalyn has just returned to Samsboro to help care for her ailing grandmother, but as she takes up residence in Spence Salvage, she is quickly reminded of her family’s less than illustrious past, particularly her father’s incarceration after confessing to murdering the town’s golden boy during their senior year of high school. After entering the local ...more
Stacy Fetters
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
"You can love someone without wanting to **** them. You can love someone without it being anything more or less that that. I don’t know why some people can’t see nuances like that, why they can’t be happy that some relationships can be crooked but loving."

I was lead to believe that this was going to be an earth shattering read and it would change my entire perspective on life. Well, readers have lead me down the wrong road because none of that happened. Am I happy that I read it? Yeah. But will
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
Thank you to Bloomsbury YA and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC!

3.5 stars*

This is one of those books that seemed to take so much longer to read than it should have. Small town dynamics are some of my favorite things to read about, but can sometimes drag along quite a bit, and unfortunately this was one of those books.

Wild and Crooked follows Kalyn Spence, the daughter of a man who has been convicted of murder, as she starts school in her mother's hometown and befriends Gus Peake, the son
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interest Level: YA

Imagine that your dad is from a small town and is in jail for murdering the high school All-American jock. Now imagine that you and your mom have to move to this small town to take care of your grandmother who has fallen ill. You are going to have to go to the same small high school that your dad and the kid who was murdered went to. Kalyn Spence and her mom move to the extremely small town of Samsboro, Kentucky. Kalyn is used to being an outspoken rebel but when she has to go
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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

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