AROHO Reading Diary #3: Wrecker, a novel by Summer Wood

[As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ll be attending A Room of Her Own Foundation’s August 2011 Women’s Writing Retreat (application: AROHO ( ) offers hands on networking support to women writers--from serious grant support (check out their Gift of Freedom Award)—to sponsoring a number of writing contests and retreats throughout the year. I continue my look at books written by AROHO 2011 retreat participants.]

I loved Wrecker from the get go. I fell hard for the little abandoned boy this novel places at the heart of its scrutiny. My poet’s background, coupled with California living means I’ve internalized a degree of spirituality/faith I assume I live by, though on closer inspection, I’m not so trusting when conflict arises. I’ve always needed books to survive reality, relying on writers to navigate the contexts of the misfortunes and fortunes bound to litter every incarnation, to prove that in fact, miraculous synchronicities await us all if we can just learn to recognize them and hold faith in the gaps between fortunes.

What I love about this novel by Summer Wood (She Writes member and author of Arroyo, a novel I’m eager to get my hands on next) is that Wrecker’s intense dilemmas are so openly, fearlessly traced and faced. Woods believably and organically weaves the unlikely group surrounding him (nudged by circumstance, conscience, the challenge of Wrecker) into a family net. I became thoroughly engrossed, foraging in each character’s mind, each with their distinct hurts and pasts coming to bear on the shaping of Wrecker’s childhood.

And what a powerful turn Wood takes, after inhabiting the mind of Wrecker’s “adoptive” mother, to shift and speak next from inside the birth mother’s narrative. I’d so fallen in love with the adoptive mother, I had, yes—judged and held the birth mother at arm’s length. I absolutely had no choice but to reconsider.

Here’s an example of the kind of poetry embedded in this novel (I wish I’d written this line)—here Wrecker’s caregiver notices Wrecker still needs his birth mother (though separated by miles and time from her): “Whatever it was his mother had done, Johnny told them, it wasn’t bad enough to turn her son. Even at this distance his heart tracked her like a plant hungry for light (p. 49).” Even at this distance his heart tracked her like a hungry plant…Beautiful, Wrecker is, from start to finish. Enjoy—I’ll stop here so I don’t give away too much.

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Comment by Tania Pryputniewicz on June 20, 2011 at 1:59pm
A pleasure, Summer. Really looking forward to New Mexico.
Comment by Summer Wood on June 20, 2011 at 8:34am
Thanks so much for this, Tania! What a warm and lovely response. Looking forward to meeting you in person at the AROHO retreat!


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