Author: Alecia Whitaker
Release Date: 07/01/14
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Wildflower was one of my most anticipated reads of 2014, but when I started reading it I wasn’t a fan. I made it 10% of the way through the story before I couldn’t take any more and had to put it down. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the story, the story of Bird, her parents, and her two older brothers on the road with her family’s folk/country band was fine, it wasn’t even uninteresting, it just wasn’t quite compelling enough to keep my attention. This is actually the problem I had with Whitaker’s first book, The Queen of Kentucky. I liked that book, but it was a very character-driven story that didn’t have anything in it to keep me turning the pages.
About a month and a half after I put Wildflower down I came back to it. I had been so excited to read it, and I wanted to know how it played out, so I decided to give it another shot. I’m glad I decided to revisit Bird’s story, but, full disclosure, as much as I came to like the story, there still wasn’t enough to it to really make me excited about it and or leave me dying to know what was going to happen.
While Bird is still on the road with her family she’s homeschooled and they literally travel from place to place in their van performing at different bars and clubs. One night her dad gets sick and can’t do lead vocals so Bird takes over for him. Even though she’s nervous at first she eventually settles in and gives a great performance. That night there happens to be a Nashville A&R executive in the crowd and he invites Bird’s dad to come and talk to him about Bird. The family thinks it will be a deal for them, but he only wants Bird. While this does create some resentment with Bird’s brothers, by and large the family is happy for Bird and supportive of her pursuing a solo career.
When Bird signs a record deal the family ends their life on the road and settles down in Nashville. Bird is excited to start recording songs, but as her album gets fast-tracked and she spends her days in the recording studio, gets makeovers, and does promotional stuff she starts to feel a lot of pressure and it all becomes less fun than she expected. Luckily Bird, who’s never really had friends, becomes friends with the daughter of a songwriter she’s working with. The time she spent with the daughter, Stella, were some of my favorite scenes in the book, it was just nice to watch Bird being a normal girl. Even when Bird wasn’t with Stella the part of the story that takes place in Nashville was more compelling than the earlier parts of the book. The long hours Bird spent in the studio and doing promotional stuff and her attempts to balance her new and old lives did get repetitive at times, but for the most part it was a pretty interesting account of a girl finding her way into being a celebrity.
There’s also a kind of romance in the story. Bird has known Adam, a fellow road musician, for many years, but she thinks he only sees her as his friend’s younger sister. She uses Adam as her muse to write songs and, with Stella’s encouragement, she starts to text and call Adam to build their own separate relationship. The romance was definitely more on the back burner and it was also a very chaste, innocent relationship. I read somewhere (forgive me for forgetting where) that this is the first in a series. There aren’t other books listed on Goodreads so we’ll see, but, if it is, it would make a lot of sense because this story didn’t really go anywhere and was left over open-ended.
Bottom Line: Even though I liked Bird from the start and eventually even came to like her family, there’s still something that held me back from really connecting with Wildflower. The story of Bird becoming a star was interesting, but still, like The Queen of Kentucky, it was lacking a hook to really draw me into the story. If you’re more ok with character-driven stories then I don’t think that will be a problem, but if you want more of a problem to be solved or change to occur than you might be disappointed with the story.
I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss (thank you!). All opinions are my own.
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