Wrecker by Summer Wood

Love You More by Lisa GardnerHe seemed to need to feel his body collide with the physical world to know he existed. – Wrecker

The child came into the world in a San Francisco city park, born to an unmarried hippie mother who didn’t even bother naming him for a year. When the boy shows a talent, even at such a young age, for being disruptive and getting into things he shouldn’t his mother, Lisa Fay, finally decides on a name for him: Wrecker. With a start like that, it’s no wonder life ends up being an uphill battle for the boy.

Unprepared for dealing with a child, especially after Wrecker’s father exists stage left, Lisa gets caught up in drugs, eventually leading to her involvement in a crime that lands her in prison looking at a 30 year stretch. So, at the ripe old age of three Wrecker enters the California foster care system, bouncing around a bit until his uncle, Len, is located in the Mattole River Valley of Humboldt County in upstate California and agrees to take the boy in.

Already caring for a wife debilitated by the effects of an infection that attacked her brain, Len quickly realizes he is in no position to keep up with Wrecker. Enter the residents of Bow Farm, a small community of four individuals who live just up the road from Len. Used to chipping in to help Len care for his wife, they agree to temporarily take in Wrecker until Len can arrange to take him back to child welfare in San Francisco. Temporarily turns into seventeen years, as we follow Wrecker from age three to twenty and watch how the ragtag Bow Farm community helps shape him into a strong young man, and how he brings them all together in a way they couldn’t possibly have foreseen when they first agreed to watch the wild child known as Wrecker.

I went into this book a little skeptical, the peace-love-harmony vibe of the 60’s not really being my cup of tea. Add to that a plot that revolves around foster care, something I have no experience with directly or indirectly, and one may wonder why I even bothered. Chalk that up to Lisa at TLC who seems to be particularly skilled at luring me out of my comfort zone, and once again she didn’t lead me astray.

Though the book begins in the late 60’s and unfolds in the mini commune setting of Bow Farm, I never got the stereotypical “hippie” vibe while reading Wrecker. Instead, through author Summer Wood’s beautifully understated prose I came to know and genuinely care about each of the people who came to make up Wrecker’s unusual family. Each arrived at Bow Farm with their own particular baggage and blind spots but, along with Len, they close ranks around Wrecker, coming together to form not just a community of people living together, but a genuine family dedicated to raising their collective child.

And then, of course, there is Wrecker himself. Determined when he first arrives not to conform to the demands adults place upon him, Wrecker slowly comes to realize the Bow Farm community isn’t really “demanding” anything; they don’t want to control him, but neither will they let the “wild child” control them. A détente of sorts quickly springs up, one that over time thaws into genuine love and respect. Wood’s exploration of Wrecker’s development from an angry, confused, withdrawn child to that of a strong, quietly confident young man is thoroughly engaging, yet amazingly subtle. Quite simply, Wrecker is the magical story of a child named for destruction, who grows up to create something incredibly special.

Wrecker is available from Bloomsbury (ISBN: 978-1608192809).

Summer Wood’s first novel, Arroyo, was published in 2001 by Chronicle Books. She lives in Taos, New Mexico where she teachs writing to adults at the University of New Mexico’s Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. To learn more about Summer, visit her website.

– Wrecker by Summer Wood –

Be sure to check out all of Summer’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, April 18th: Scraps of Life
Tuesday, April 19th: Musings of an All Purpose Monkey
Thursday, April 21st: Book Club Classics!
Friday, April 22nd: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Monday, April 25th: In the Next Room
Tuesday, April 26th: Life in Review
Wednesday, April 27th: Boarding in my Forties
Thursday, April 28th: Red Headed Book Child
Monday, May 2nd: Joyfully Retired
Thursday, May 5th: Rundpinne
Monday, May 9th: Caribousmom
Tuesday, May 10th: Amused by Books
Wednesday, May 11th: I’m Booking It

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  • […] Tuesday, April 19th:  Musings of an All Purpose Monkey […]

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  • Lisa Munley

    April 19, 2011 - 12:46 pm

    Ah, you give me too much credit! But I’m so glad you enjoyed this book. Great review- thank you so much for being on the tour and sharing your thoughts on Wrecker with your readers!

  • Sabrina Ogden

    April 19, 2011 - 10:44 am

    Wow. Sounds amazing. I probably never would have picked up a book like this, but I’m interested in learning more about this community that raised this child. I was officially on my own at 14 with no adult supervision… and I have a dozen women to thank for the direction my life took.

    Wonderful review, Elizabeth. I look forward to reading this.

    • Elizabeth A. White

      April 20, 2011 - 7:15 pm

      I was genuinely surprised by how much I liked it, and I didn’t even have any kind of personal connection to the subject matter. Will be interested in hearing your thoughts once you get to it…whenever than may be. 😉