Thank you to Bloomsbury for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.
WILD AND CROOKED, like the last book I read of Leah’s WHEN LIGHT LEFT US, was stunning. I went in thinking one thing and getting another. I love books like that. It’s like reaching into a Halloween bucket of candy and coming out with the peanut butter cup prize.
This story follows three POV’s, but mainly the focus is on two. Gus, who has cerebral palsy, and Kayln, who is the daughter of a murderer. The two kids strike up a nonconventional friendship which leads them down a path of self-discovery and solving the mystery of a decades-long murder cover-up.
The first half of the book seemed very much almost a love story but not. I caught on pretty quickly what was happening. There were tense moments where some secrets threatened to spill, and when they did, it was a like a bomb exploded. I was biting my lip as I was reading, on edge. The second half took a bit of a detour and focused more on the past and how to right the wrongs of their families and town.
I loved the characters. Every one of them. We have some serious queer reps, as well as mental and physical illnesses that you think would impede out heroes, but it only makes them stronger in the long run. Leah Thomas has a way with her characters that puts me in awe. Her talent is flawless. She weaves stories through complicated narratives with ease. She gives us a glimpse into the lives of flawed and fierce teens who lean on each for support.
The platonic queer friendships are something rare in YA books, so this book was refreshing. The murder mystery reminded me a lot of Making a Murderer and had me hooked from the first chapter.
I can’t describe how much I love Leah Thomas and all of her novels. If you haven’t read WHEN LIGHT LEFT US or her earlier works, do so, and add this one to your WANT TO READ. You won’t be disappointed.