Wrecker – Book Review and Giveaway

They couldn’t control him and so they gave up trying. But neither could he control them, and he, too, came to understand this, and the shimmering tentative thing that stretched between them those first days thickened into something workable, something like love in overalls, love with a spade in its hand. – from Wrecker, page 28 –

Wrecker is born in 1965 in a public park in San Francisco to a mother who is homeless and desperate, but who loves him in a fierce and protective way. For three years, Lisa Fay raises her child in the best way she knows how. And then, she is arrested and imprisoned and Wrecker is turned over to social services, and eventually to an Uncle he has never met. Len brings Wrecker to the Mattole Valley located in the heart of Humboldt County, California where Len works in the timber industry and struggles to care for his disabled wife, Meg. Bow Farm is a wild place, a magical place…and it is there where Wrecker meets Ruth, Willow, Melody, and Johnny Appleseed who offer him not only sanctuary, but acceptance and love. Spanning nearly two decades, Summer Wood’s enchanting and poignant novel follows Wrecker from a toddler into early adulthood.

Wood writes with a heartfelt honesty which keeps the novel from being overly sentimental. She takes care in developing her characters, people who are flawed and damaged by life, but have room in their hearts for a young boy who helps them heal. Wood captures the exuberance and joy of childhood, and the fearlessness of a young boy growing up with beautiful, descriptive prose.

Len hadn’t even shut the engine when Wrecker was out of the truck bed and halfway to the water, his shirt wrenched off in one fluid motion and flung backward to catch in the blackberry thorns. He paused briefly to yank the boots from his feet and step out of his jeans, left his shorts on in deference to Meg, and used the giant boulder as a springboard into the fat dry August air. It held him suspended. Fourteen. Broad-shouldered. Stringy from sudden growth. And then he raised his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them and made himself a compact bullet, a musket ball swallowed with enormous splash and spray by the shining sheet of river below him – down, down, bubbles of zany laughter escaping – pushed off the soft muck of the river bottom to twist and torpedo up and break the surface with a whoop, his sun-bleached hair water slicked and slung sideways with that quick flick of the neck – “Len!” he shouted, his voice lurching up the register, “Get in here!” – from Wrecker, page 165 –

Wood explores themes of loss, grief, redemption and the healing power of love in her novel. Set against the backdrop of the breathtaking beauty of nature, her characters struggle with their every day lives, turning again and again to the common thread which binds them together – Wrecker.

What I loved most about this novel was the joy which is discovered in the most simple of things – the “sheer ambrosial sweetness of wild blackberries,” the spun wool turned into “weavings that dazzled the eye and caught the heart,” and the stretching arms of a venerable maple tree “as much part of the hillside as the rocks and soil.” What Wood does so effortlessly is capture the small things which bring us solace and wonder.

Wrecker is the story of a boy, but it is also the story of a family – a family which is not defined by blood, but which is defined by the love and care that grows between the characters. And perhaps this is what elevates the novel from a simple coming of age story to something deeper. If you are like me, Wrecker will capture your heart and leave you feeling that life, with all its ups and downs, is worth the journey when it is traveled with those who love us.

Highly Recommended.

  • Quality of Writing:
  • Plot:
  • Characters:

Overall Rating:


Read other reviews of this book by following the links from the TLC Book Tours page.

FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog as part of a TLC Book Tour.


Summer Wood is the author of the novels Arroyo (Chronicle Books) and Wrecker (Bloomsbury, 2011). Her non-fiction work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler and other venues. Wood teaches writing to adults at the University of New Mexico’s Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. She lives in Taos with her partner, Kathy Namba. They have three grown sons and have served as foster parents through New Mexico’s Child Protective Services. Learn more about Wood and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Read an interview with Summer Wood about Wrecker.

Follow the author’s blog, The Where of It.


I am thrilled to be able to offer a copy of WRECKER to one lucky winner here on my blog. Giveaway is restricted to US and Canada mailing addresses. To enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post no later than May 16th at 5:00 pm (PST) indicating that you would like to be entered in the giveaway.
  • I will randomly draw a winner on May 17th and announce their name here on my blog. I will also email the winner who must respond to that email within 5 days with their snail mail address.

That’s it! Easy peasy, right?

Good luck!

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  1. I would love to win a copy of this – and even if I don’t, your review has me putting it on my wish list.

    • Laura on May 8, 2011 at 20:55

    I would love to be entered in the giveaway! Thanks.

  2. Ah!!! Yes! Yes! YES! I’m so happy that everyone is loving this book. I think I was one of the first to come in contact with it (it’s a little offbeat and more my style than the average blogger, I think) and I just adored it. i had no idea whether or not it would be a crowd-pleaser but it seems to be. thanks for sharing this!

  3. Wrecker sounds like a great character and a great story. I think the book sounds like one for our times since the definition of family has really changed the last few years.

  4. Wendy! I’m so glad you enjoyed Wrecker and gave it such a high rating! Thank you for being on the tour and sharing your thoughts on it with your readers.

  5. This sounds like a really interesting and unusual book, and though I had read reviews of it before, they were sort of vague about the plot. I’d love the chance to be entered in your giveaway, and love the review that you wrote for this book. Thanks for the chance!


    • Kay on May 9, 2011 at 05:41

    I think WRECKER sounds really good and you gave it such a high rating that I must check it out. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Shannon Lind on May 9, 2011 at 07:23

    Looking forward to this one!

    • Anna on May 9, 2011 at 08:10

    The writing seems beautiful from the passages you included in your review, and Wrecker sounds like a very interesting character. I’d love to be entered in the giveaway. Thanks!

  6. Wow, this review really made my day! THANK YOU for your insight and observations — & for picking a couple of my own favorite passages to quote. It’s just incredibly rewarding to read reviews that really “get” the book. I’ll be sharing this one around, for sure. And many thanks, too, to the readers who commented!

  7. This sounds like a great read, would love to win, thanks! for the giveaway.

    • Melanie on May 9, 2011 at 12:04

    Thanks for your review. The title alone tempts me to read it. So it’s on my list now.

  8. Wrecker was put on my wish list after I first read a synopsis from the publisher before it’s release. Naturally, I’d love to win a copy!

    • anne on May 9, 2011 at 12:41

    Thanks for your great review. This book would be enthralling.

    • Linda on May 9, 2011 at 16:22

    Love your reviews and would enjoy reading this book. Please enter me to win. Thank you!

    • Jan McAfee on May 9, 2011 at 16:23

    This sounds like an excellent book. I’d love a chance to win a copy, please enter me in the drawing!

    Thank you,

    • Liz V. on May 9, 2011 at 19:14

    You’ve convinced me Wrecker is well worth reading. Would like to win. Thanks for the chance.

  9. I agree with – I really loved this book and little Wrecker especially!

    • Brittany Gale on May 9, 2011 at 22:53

    I entered for this book on Goodreads but lost 🙁 I wanted it so bad! Glad to have an extra chance to win it! Thanks 🙂


  10. This book sounds like a really fun read. Thank you for the giveaway.

  11. I’d love to win this book for my roomie! She’s a social worker.

    • ikkinlala on May 10, 2011 at 21:26

    I’d love a chance to read this book.

    • Amy on May 11, 2011 at 10:26

    The themes in this novel are so relatable as is the idea of family being defined by those who love you not necessarily those people related to you. This sounds like a captivating story that reminds us what life is really all about.

    Thank you for a terrific review, Wendy and for hosting a giveaway of this book! Please include me in it :o)


    • Erika on May 14, 2011 at 10:00

    This sounds awesome! I would love to be entered into the giveaway.


  12. Oh, I absolutely MUST read this one, and thus would love to have a chance to win it.

    Thanks for the opportunity!

    • Shannon on May 15, 2011 at 10:20

    Sounds like a great book!

    • gavin on May 15, 2011 at 15:58

    I love the sound of this one. Please enter my name in the drawing.

    • Sheila K. on May 16, 2011 at 06:44

    Sounds like a good read—please enter me to win!

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