Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:Kiri is the richly drawn narrator of Smith's debut novel, and she hums along through the book trying to find a place for her electric energy and crackling mind, though as she flies through the challenges of the book we begin to recognize that Kiri hasn't yet learned the difference between finding transcendence and flying off the rails.
1. You will remember to water the azaleas.2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.
Things that actually happen:
1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.2. He says he has her stuff.3. What stuff? Her stuff.4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—6. You pick up a pen.7. You scribble down the address.8. You get on your bike and go.9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.**also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.
After her parents go away for the summer, and a mysterious phone call unearths the mystery of her sister's death---and the related grief she's never been able to work through---Kiri sets out to find answers. In her life till now, much of Kiri's kinetic energy was spent trying to become something her sister, a free-spirited artist rejected and spurned by her parents, would be proud of. But when she discovers the truth of her sister's life is more unsavory then she imagined, Kiri is left with an entirely different set of questions. What does it mean to give yourself over to a creative life? Is it possible to live at the edge of experience and keep relationships that expect her to toe the line, like her family? How far is too far when searching for your own voice?
Smith (otherwise known as INTERN) packs the book with a voice that sings. Her creative phrasing and killer dialogue were so fresh and full of zing, I found myself rereading lines again and again, saying them aloud to hear their music. Ultimately, though the conflicts were not resolved with total coherence, Smith's bold style and Kiri's vibrant resonance made the read so damned fun, I'd recommend it to anyone. But most especially, anyone who held an instrument as a kid and found a new part of themselves every time they played it.