Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood
Published May 3, 2017, by Sourcebooks Fire.
YA > Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden; all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?
But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past….
I cannot believe that I didn’t read this book sooner! Wild Swans has everything that I look for in a perfect summer read: family drama, strong friendships, new loves… all set with a beautiful beach backdrop.
This is the first book that I’ve read by Jessica Spotswood, and I think it flew a bit under the radar when it was released. I have no idea why, because I enjoyed Wild Swans immensely. I must say that the first thing that stuck out to me was her incredibly poetic writing. Of course it helps that poetry is a big part of the story, but it is so easy to feel emotion through her wonderfully written narration and dialogue.
The story is so rich. Learning about the Milbourn family history made it feel so much more real. For this reason, readers are transported to Cecil and the Milbourn home.
Her characters are equally as beautiful, yet flawed and frustrating. I adored Ivy and her stubbornness, drive, and fear to fail. I also loved her Granddad, and his complicated expectations, and goals for Ivy, and eventually even her estranged mother, Erica, and sisters. The family dynamic that is formed between Ivy, Granddad, Alex, and Alex’s mother, their housekeeper, is also really special. When Erica comes back, it’s easy to see how emotionally disruptive it is for everyone.
Right away what I loved most about Ivy is that she knows how she feels, and she doesn’t budge to try and make others feel better about it. The way she dealt with her friendship with Alex made me so happy. Also, she stood her ground when it came to the family drama with Granddad and Erica. She was mature.
There is a bit of romance, which I enjoyed! It didn’t feel out of place, but it fell right into the story. I liked Connor a lot, and actually wish we got to learn more about him.
This is such a character-driven book, and focuses so much on relationships, family, and friendships. But there’s also a lot of unexpected elements that I didn’t see coming. It’s diverse in a way that I wasn’t expecting a book about a rich white family to be, which I really appreciated!
I went into Wild Swans hoping for an entertaining summer read, but I got so much more than that. It’s an incredibly beautiful and real story that will definitely stay with you. It surpassed my expectations, and I highly recommend you check this one out!