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Wild and Crooked

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  770 ratings  ·  195 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, 438 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
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Jasmine From what I remember she brought it with her incase she needed to egg somebody. I'm not 100% sure though since a read that part a while ago.…moreFrom what I remember she brought it with her incase she needed to egg somebody. I'm not 100% sure though since a read that part a while ago.(less)
Krystina Furst There are 3 lesbian characters and one queer/questioning character.

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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  770 ratings  ·  195 reviews

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Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-read
At its core, Wild and Crooked is a story of a friendship. Sweet and pure teenage friendship.

Kalyn Spence and Gus Peake, two kids whose stories were tragically intertwined before they were even born, are the center of this tale.

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 from the locals.

She tries to fly under the radar, but finds her new person
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
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 fathe
The Bookish Puff
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK!!! I have so many thoughts & a full review is coming soon!

Merged review:

This book just got me. Representation, diversity, a healthy platonic relationship between a male and female, true crime, and dark humor. What else could you want!? This book may not be for everyone because there is a strong mystery/true crime theme in the book. However, Leah Thomas' writing is flawless and I just could not put this book down. Unpredictable, hilarious, emotional, and overall just a stunning read! 5
Vicky Again
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) & his foot, so he
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at 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
alana ♡
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Just because people only see thorns in us, just because for so long I couldn't see anything else, doesn't mean we've got no petals"

tw: 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
Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)
There's more than one way to be a fragile person.
The strong family and frienship elements in this story were my absolute favorite parts. Kalyn and Gus immediately form this connection as Kalyn begins school in a new town, but both are keeping complicated secrets about their pasts and their unknown connection. While I loved the relationships that developed throughout the story, I didn't really like the characters. Kalyn, especially bugged me with her 'Rose' persona, and I thought Phil
Nia •ShadesOfPaper•
I was so excited to read Wild and Crooked because I’ve been hearing such amazing things about it, and the premise sounded like something I would totally enjoy. Unfortunately, this was one of those cases where the book just wasn’t for me, because I can see why people have liked it, but I found the reading experience a bit underwhelming.

One of the main issues that I had with the story was that I didn’t particularly like the writing style. There was something about it that made me disconnect from t
Brittany Lamb
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
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
4 stars
TW: references to murder, poverty, lynching, mention of abortion, homophobic comments
Rep: lesbian MC, questioning gay male MC with cerebral palsy & aphasia

The Writing
I don't really remember much about the writing to be honest with you. I thought Kalyn's voice came through really clearly in the writing, but Gus was kind of... really forgettable at times and I'm not sure if that was the point or not??? I found Phil's PoV to be really interуsting and I loved the themes that each of the
This was my most anticipated book for my pan readathon, and it has a bunch of things I love; queer rep, disability rep, platonic relationship between the MCs, and some murder mystery vibes, so I'm pretty bummed that I don't love this.

→ Rep; Kalyn (MC) is a lesbian. Gus (MC) has cerebral palsy and aphasia, and is pansexual. Gus has two moms, one who is fat. Phil (SC with a couple POV chapters) has antisocial personality disorder.

→ Content/trigger warnings; mentions of death of father, incarcerate
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)
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physical-2019, 2019
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
4 stars.

Ohhhh my goodness, Wild and Crooked is such a beautiful and hard-hitting book. It really tugged at all my heartstrings and I'm just :') so EMOTIONAL :') This was a book I practically flew through, because once I started, I simply could not put it down.

Wild and Crooked is mainly told through two POVs, Kalyn and Gus, and I enjoyed reading through both of their perspectives, especially since on the surface, they were on opposite sides of a very tragic situation - a murder that happened in
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.
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
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 any
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

Kalyn’s father languishes in prison for the murder of Gus’s dad, claiming innocence. The teens two outcasts shouldn’t be friends, but are drawn together.

I expected WILD AND CROOKED to be a murder mystery, with unlikely friends teaming up to find the true killer. Instead, Leah Thomas’s book is more of a buddy story, the killing a weak, subpar subplot.

Gus has CP and aphasia, disabilities I’ve rarely seen in young adult literature. It’s just part of who he is, not his whole identity. The
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
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2019
I'll start by saying that contemporaries aren't my cup of tea, so I was a bit reluctant when I started reading this one. Let me tell you, I loved it so much that I am so glad I eventually read it and I'm definitely going to read it again in the future!

Two things I loved most about it, one being the friendship between Gus and Kalyn! On my God, I wasn't expecting them to become such good friends, I was expecting the level of cuteness that ensued and I was also not expecting how dedicated and loyal
Cassandra (Thebookishcrypt)
4.5 stars!
Review coming soon!
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
The combination of the mystery, the plot, the backstory, and the characters made this story really intriguing
Jul 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
I've had some difficulty getting into books lately, but I found myself unable to put this one down.

What I liked: story focusing on friendship and platonic love (there's not even a b-plot romance); the characters and the MCs twisted sense of humor; the themes of identity and being true to yourself and of seeing beyond perceptions (of others and of themselves); the exploration of heavy topics without falling into melodrama; one of the MCs is disabled and (from my limited perspective as an abled p
Apr 30, 2021 added it
Shelves: dnf
stopped at 100 pages, this is not worth it. look at the 1 and 2 star reviews, they give proof to how this book irked me from the get go. it's quite problematic, the rep on the surface level seems alright but it's hurtful and this book makes me mad ...more
Thank you to Bloomsbury YA and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC!

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 of the ma
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
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

For me, the best part of this book was the touching friendship between Gus and Kalyn. Let me emphasize the word friendship. It was really refreshing to see a pansexual PWD character and a lesbian character as good friends, especially because that friendship was actually the focus of this novel. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a good contemporary romance, but I feel like we need to see more healthy friendships between well-written diverse reps in fiction.

I liked some of the s
blok sera szwajcarskiego
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
so freaking humourous and heart-breaking
so so good
really reminded me about 'good girl's guide to murder' and actually managed to reach its level
I adore it with all my shattered heart
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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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