Embarrassingly enough, when I first met Jessica Taylor, I mistook her for someone else. Thankfully, she was extremely nice about it, and when we reconnected a few years later, I was happy to learn that her book WANDERING WILD had made it out into the world:
Raised by Wanderers, sixteen-year-old Tal travels the roads of the southern wild in her Chevy by day and camps in her tent trailer at night. Hustling, conning, and grifting her way into just enough cash to save her fifteen-year-old brother, Wen, from bare-knuckle fighting was once enough to keep her dreams of traveling the whole world at bay. Everything changes when the Wanderers set up camp in a little town called Cedar Falls.
There, Spencer Sway, a boy Tal tried to hustle at a game of billiards, keeps popping up into her life—and worst of all—into her scams. Buttoned-up, starched-and-ironed Spencer talks of places where Tal’s truck can’t take her. His promises of traveling across oceans are almost enough to shatter her love of the Wanderer life.
When a boy shows up at camp, ready to make good on a nearly-forgotten arranged marriage to Tal, Tal and Wen make a pact: No matter the cost, they will use their limitless skills of grift to earn the bride price and buy back her future—even if Spencer Sway gets used along the way.
In addition to WANDERING WILD, here are some other books Jessica thinks readers will also enjoy:
WHAT’S BROKEN BETWEEN US by Alexis Bass. After Amanda’s brother Jonathan kills a classmate while drunk driving, he gives an interview that makes him sound less than apologetic. A year and a half later he’s coming home from prison, and Amanda has to deal with the fallout. I’m a huge fan of Alexis Bass’s writing, and this is my absolute favorite of her books. Like WANDERING WILD, it deals with learning to accept and forgive a destructive family member.
THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW by Kim Culbertson. Mara has always been a perfectionist, but when she has an embarrassing outburst in the middle of her calculus exam, she trades her overachieving ways for some time with her laid-back father in Lake Tahoe. Learning to focus on what’s best for ourselves is something I love to explore both in my writing and my life (don’t we all?). I highly recommend this book!
OUTRUN THE MOON by Stacey Lee. Mercy Wong is determined to leave behind her life of poverty, so she finesses admittance into an elite San Francisco school. When the historic 1906 earthquake strikes the city, Mercy must survive with her classmates. Mercy is one of my favorite heroines. Like Tal in WANDERING WILD, Mercy is torn between the life she was born into and a destiny of her own making.
UP TO THIS POINTE by Jennifer Longo. Harper has lived her life with one goal in mind–to become a professional ballerina. When that plan goes south, so does Harper. Literally. She finagles her way into spending the winter in the Antarctic to rediscover herself. Like my next novel, A MAP FOR LOST GIRLS (Dial/Penguin, 2018), UP TO THIS POINTE is a non-linear story, which is one of my favorite story structures. I absolutely devoured this book!
CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber. Two sisters escape their ruthless father and enter into a dangerous game that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. This is one of most highly anticipated debuts, and I had the absolute privilege to read an early draft. Like A MAP FOR LOST GIRLS, CARAVAL has a strong sister relationship and explores how far the strength of those bonds will make a sister go.