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The Wild Girls

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,695 ratings  ·  345 reviews
It is the early 1970s. Twelve-year-old Joan is sure that she is going to be miserable when her family moves from Connecticut to California. Then she meets a most unusual girl. Sarah prefers to be called "Fox" and lives with her author dad in a rundown house in the middle of the woods. The two girls start writing their own stories together, and when one wins first place in ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 18th 2007 by Viking Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2007)
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Sarah Ames-Foley This is my first time reading it, but that's absolutely how I read their relationship! I'm only halfway through, but feel like there are strong hints…moreThis is my first time reading it, but that's absolutely how I read their relationship! I'm only halfway through, but feel like there are strong hints at it (but I tend to read into things like that because I love seeing queer relationships in media).(less)
Arabella no, sadly :( I wish there was but there isn't.…moreno, sadly :( I wish there was but there isn't. (less)

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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  1,695 ratings  ·  345 reviews

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Aug 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Wild Girls is a book for writers. It's a book for girls who don't always follow the rules and for girls who play with spotted newts. As a girl who enjoys writing, newts, and occasional rule-breaking, I fell in love immediately.

Pat Murphy tells the story of two girls -- the rule-following Joan (aka Newt), who just moved to California from Connecticut and has always written the kinds of stories she thought her teacher would like, and Sarah (aka Fox), who hangs out throwing rocks in the woods
Nov 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
10/2013 I started with the audiobook, but it was one disc short, so I got the book and started over. I remain a big fan. It's solidly plotted, and covers a lot of early adolescence without being an issue book at all. Highly recommended.

11/2009 I loved the girls in this book. Fox and Newt are so perfectly poised between childhood and adolescence, between that subterranean self that exists early on and the later, public iceberg self. Their groping towards the light is beautifully mirrored in their

I loved this book and couldn’t put it down until the last page.

It’s an insightful and absorbing middle-grade novel, very enticingly and well written.
Although the author wrote the story from a young girl’s point of view, both the writing and the plot aren’t childish at all.

It was heartwarming to read about these amazing girls, Joan and Sarah, and the issues they went through, their loyal friendship, how they grew up a lot in a not so long span of time.
Few pages were kind of moving too!

Kathryn Berla
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
This was an absolutely lovely novel that I would recommend to writers and aspiring writers ages 12 to 100. Also would recommend to anyone interested in the San Francisco East Bay (Danville and Berkeley) in 1972.
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was amazing. The whole time I wanted to be these characters, I wanted to live their lives. This book was just amazing.
☼♎ Carmen the Bootyshaker Temptress ☼♎
It was a sad book at times but what they realized at the end was much better than to continue with what was going on. I really enjoyed this book.
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Book talk: Before Joan moved to California she only read stories. After she moved to California, Joan began to live them. It all started when she was exploring in the woods near her house and she found what looked like a troll's living room. It turned out that it belonged to a girl named Sarah who called herself the Queen of Foxes. Joan soon became newt in turn and newt and fox explored secret grottoes, defended their fort from invaders, and hid in the woods. Their real life mixed with a fantasy ...more
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing

"I wondered if it would always be like that: first the fear, and then the glory."

Picked from the J shelves of my local library because the cover promised all things girl-powery and maybe a little bit of good writing. And I was not disappointed.

The Wild Girls delivers absolute beauty in a junior lit book that adults can and should enjoy as well. The writing is not childish. There are some very moving passages and all does not have the happiest of endings. There is no black-and-white, right v.
The Wild Girls is an amazing novel. Joan, later to be called Newt, has just moved from Conneticut to Danneville, California. She soon meets a strange, independent girl Sarah, called Fox by friends and family. The two girls become very close. Fox lives with her dad because her mom ran away when she was 7, but now Fox's mom wants to get a divorce and make ammends with Fox. Newt's parents still live together, but they are nearing the end of the line. Her dad is always angry and constantly fights ...more
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved the book. A great book for preteens. Joan moved to a new town and thought she would hate it but she met a kindred spirit. Joan and Sarah - Newt and Fox - spent their time outside and writing stories. Great inspiration for anyone wanting to write their own journal, story or book.
This book took me by surprise on several levels.

It's a quietly wonderful coming-of-age story; it explores the power of words, of friendship, of nature, and of nonconformity. It does push the nonconformity angle a bit too hard, though: nature-loving Joan and Sarah (who call each other Newt and Fox) emphasize that they don't understand girls who are interested in makeup and boys. That kind of gave me an icky "not like other girls" vibe. And their attitude on this doesn't really change, but Joan
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the book I wish I had read when I was in fifth or sixth grade. It would have meant so much to know that I was not the only one dealing with arguing parents and being different in school. It is, however, much more than a girls' coming of age novel. This book silently screams to be chosen for book clubs and classroom literature instruction. The instructions given in the girl's summer writing class are ones to challenge writers in any classroom. The writing process the girls learn is very ...more
Sarah Cavar
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-mg-ya
I read this book in middle school, savoring it section by section during free moments in class, after having finished my work early. I also remember reading it at home, in the spring and summer, on the porch by my family's poorly-tended garden. It was a bible for me. It was inspiring. It was a constant reminder that I both wanted to be, and *could be*, a writer. The same well-loved copy I carried in my backpack and under my arm at age eleven remains on my bookshelf to this day.
Sarah Ames-Foley
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Writers, young women, and young writers
Shelves: favorites
You can find my full review on my blog.

This is a beautifully written story about two middle school girls who develop a deep friendship with each other while learning lessons about life, interpersonal relationships, and writing. The characters are complex and relatable, the story is soft and heartwarming (although some deep issues are mentioned), and the lessons are applicable to everyone. I cannot recommend this book enough!
(cw for alcoholism & domestic abuse)
Alica McKenna-Johnson
Thank you for this wonderful book! I stumbled upon the audio book searching to fill in a bingo square in my summer book bingo card, and it was the perfect book at the perfect time. The lessons and process Fox and Joan go through were lessons I needed to learn and words I needed to hear. This book reminded me how important fiction is. How the words we authors put on the page are powerful. So, thank you Pat Murphy I look forward to reading more of your work.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is about Joan. Joan and her family moved to California. Joan thinks her life there would be miserable. But when Joan and her family got there, her life changes. Joan met a friend named Sarah. While they were getting to know each other, both Joan and Sarah found out that they liked writing a story. So, Joan and Sarah entered the fiction contest and they won. Both Joan and Sarah got recruited to a summer writing class and the teacher would Verla Volante. That class is for them to know ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-books
I really enjoyed this while I was reading it. The characters had real problems, the adults were actually complicated and had their own journeys within the book, but didn't upstage the two main characters, Joan/Newt and Fox/Sarah. It was definitely refreshing that there weren't black-and-white characters; even the least sympathetic nevertheless had his moments. I did like the central idea of trying to understand the world and the people around you in order to write about them, and finding the ...more
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
A young adult book about two young girls learning how to be friends, how to understand parent's fighting and becoming writers. The author is very good at expressing how these girls think and their interactions and responses were refreshingly realistic. This book focuses on divorce and fighting parents but in a way that doesn't demonize anyone. If you have a young writer at home this is a good choice. An enjoyable read.
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Oh, it's fine. The story is nice enough, and it's an enjoyable read. There is absolutely zero reason to set it in the early 70s though. That's kind of a pet peeve of mine. If you're going to make a book historical, you need a better reason than "that's when I was growing up". Still, it's pleasant.
Apr 16, 2009 marked it as to-read
Shelves: kids-fiction
I remember that Elizabeth's girls enjoyed this one, and it was recently highly recommended to me (again)!
Apr 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
i loved this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!Autumn,you should read this!
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Too much to say I need to think about it before I write something.

Let's just say : it was perfect!!!! This book goes straight up to my favorite shelf, I am in love!
Emily Lieberman
I didn't like it that much.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I needed a book for 2018's reading challenge that took place in the decade that I was born and I stumbled upon this one. Thank you, Goodreads Lists! I loved this one! Great for all ages. There are definitely some hard things that these two girls are facing, but nothing is crazy violent or graphic. There isn't any language or weird sexual things like I keep finding in these coming of age/growing up/learning about the world-type books I keep running across.
The characters are complex. The pretty
Laura Black
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
"We are the wild girls who live in the woods. You are afraid of us. You are afraid because you don't know what we might do." That is quite possibly the most original dialogue in any teen novel I have ever read. This book, set in the San Fransisco area in 1972, is about Joan and Sarah, an unlikely duo who nickname themselves Newt and Fox. Sarah is Queen of the Foxes. She has a theory on why her mom ran out on her when she was seven. Newt's parents fight all the time and she longs to escape from ...more
Sarah Thompson
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My Thirteen year old daughter and I read this book together and I am so glad we did. This has officially become her favorite book and I can see why. The characters and emotions they grapple with are beautifully portrayed, and the story itself appeals to a wide audience. It kept both of us thoroughly entertained and sparked some timely and heartfelt conversations about growing up, the complexity of relationships, and being true to ourselves. A truly lovely read, one that I’d recommend to all of ...more
Joanna Glaze
3.5/4 Note for parents: some bad language, parental fighting and realities of divorce.

I love that the practice of writing is celebrated and encouraged in this book as a means of learning more about yourself and others. It encouraged me to “notice the details.”

“Ask questions, Verla said, it’s the only way to learn.
It’s easy to see what’s on the surface. Try to see what’s below the surface. Listen to what people are saying, but figure out what they aren’t saying. What’s the subtext.”

Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audio book version narrated by Coleen Marlo.

I thought this was an insightful "coming of age" story for young women. I've read lots of stories like this for boys, but I've rarely come across them for girls.

Joan's dad was a lot like my dad when I was growing up, so that was something I could really relate to.

I think this story would be especially appropriate for girls aged 12-14 who are interested in books and writing or girls growing up in dysfunctional families.
Kate Naughter
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I recommend this to middle school girls who enjoy reading about strong, formidable, loyal friendships. Joan and Fox are clearly confident, stand in their centers, yet face quite a few challenging situations head on. It's also a read I recommend to any teacher of writing who is looking for free-spirited ideas effused by the rebellious, yet expressive atmosphere of the 70's.
Orla Hegarty
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminist, sentbynlpl
This book should not only be for young adults. I can't imagine any reader not enjoying this story of two girls facing complex family situations in the 70s and facing them head on (and sometimes with war paint lol).

Also, bonus: it is a bit of a writer's guide guised as an actual book so if you are a writer (or an aspiring one) you will be taught valuable tings whilst being entertained.

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“I read books when I was a kid, lots of books. Books always seemed like magic to me. They took you to the most amazing places. When I got older, I realized I couldn’t find books that took me to all the places I wanted to go. To go to those places, I had to write some books myself.” 14 likes
“I've learned to write the truth. But to do that, I had to figure out what the truth was-and I had to realize that the truth isn't always the same for everyone. I had to realize that my truth may not be the same as your truth.” 13 likes
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