From the award-winning author of The Running Dream and Flipped comes a remarkable portrait of a girl who has hit rock bottom but begins a climb back to herself at a wilderness survival camp.
3:47 a.m. That’s when they come for Wren Clemmens. 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 anymore. This is wilderness therapy camp. Eight weeks of survivalist camping in the desert. Eight weeks to turn your life around. Yeah, right.
The Wren who arrives in the Utah desert is angry and bitter, and blaming everyone but herself. But angry can’t put up a tent. And bitter won’t start a fire. Wren’s going to have to admit she needs help if she’s going to survive.
"I read Wild Bird in one long mesmerized gulp. Wren will break your heart—and then mend it." —Nancy Werlin, National Book Award finalist for The Rules of Survival
"Van Draanen’s Wren is real and relatable, and readers will root for her." —VOYA, starred review
Fourteen-year-old Wren knows that she's in trouble when she awakens to a police officer hovering near her bed, but she has no idea what's in store for her. Wren's parents, in a desperate effort to save their daughter from a downward spiral of drug use and criminal behavior, have enrolled her in an eight-week wilderness program for at-risk youth. Whisked to Utah and dropped in the desert to join a group of teens and counselors, Wren endures a harrowing quest to find herself while battling extreme heat, limited water supplies, and rigorous hikes across the terrain. Mirroring physical pain and emotional torment as Wren recalls instances of betrayal and rejection, Van Draanen (The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones) shows how the teenager finds unexpected guidance from an elderly Paiute man, a heroin-addicted camper, and a patient counselor who teaches her how to start a fire in the wilderness, as well as within herself. Featuring evocative descriptions of landscape and psychological insight into a troubled teen, Van Draanen's story is engrossing and inspiring. Ages 12 up.