Wildman by J. C. Geiger
Publication Date June 6, 2017
Summary from NetGalley:
How can a complete stranger know you better than the people you’ve known your entire life?”
Lance Hendricks is homeward bound, four hundred highway miles from the best night of his life. There’s an epic graduation party brewing, his girlfriend will be there, and they’ve got a private bedroom with their names on it. When his ’93 Buick breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Lance is sure he’ll be back on the road in no time. After all, he’s the high school valedictorian. First chair trumpet player. Scholarship winner. Nothing can stop Lance Hendricks.
But afternoon turns to night, and Lance ends up stranded at the Trainsong Motel. The place feels ominous, even before there’s a terrible car wreck outside his room. When Lance rushes out to help, the townies take notice. They call him Wildman, and an intriguing local girl asks him to join in their nighttime adventures. He begins to live up to his new name. As one day blurs into the next, Lance finds himself in a bar fight, jumping a train, avoiding the police. Drifting farther from home and closer to a girl who makes him feel a way he’s never felt before-like himself.
This debut novel by a remarkable new talent explores the relationship between identity and place, the power of being seen, and the speed at which a well-planned life can change forever.
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
This one starts out like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Lance finds himself stuck in a small town with some interesting characters, who on the surface seem pleasant and helpful enough. But there is something not so likable about them as Lance spends more time stuck at the Trainsong Motel.
I admired Lance, he knew where he was going with his life. He had a plan. But you can tell he isn’t totally happy with that plan, especially as the story progressed. At first I couldn’t figure out how his trip to Seattle at the start of the story fit in with his plan. But eventually you see how unhappy he is with his life and that he wants something different, he just doesn’t know how to go about it. Enter Dakota, she too is stuck in this small town in the middle of no where and doesn’t know how to get herself out of her life plan either. They both help each other figure it out, with some interesting adventures along the way.
The town, Baring, WA is full of interesting and somewhat helpful people. They all seem distrustful of Lance at first, but eventually they do end up helping him. The young men that he hangs out with through out most of the book are an eclectic group. On the surface, after an initial altercation between Lance and a couple of them, they seem nice enough. But eventually you come to see them as the unpleasant bullies that they really are. They are really mean to one character in particular, Stone, which on the surface seemed like good natured ribbing, but it really wasn’t. Lance really connects with Stone by the end of the story, and I think it was him more than anyone else that helped Lance on his journey.
Most of the book is a series of small adventures that Lance takes that are totally different than his life had been before. The story of why his car really stopped working, was amusing, and the reasons why he wouldn’t abandon it like his mom wanted him to was heartbreaking. The ending is a little sad, there is a tragedy involving one of the group of friends. But it is also uplifting, when Lance finally realizes that he doesn’t really want the life that everyone expects him to have, but something different. I loved his graduation speech he gives at the end of the book. This was a very satisfying read that I found hard to put down.