Louisa Cosgrove is Louisa Cosgrove- not Lucy Childs. Or, is she?
A horse-drawn carriage takes her to the wrong place: Wildthorn Hall, an asylum for the insane. This must be a great misunderstanding. They strip her naked, of everything- undo her whalebone corset hook by hook. They take her identity. But she is still seventeen- still Louisa Cosgrove- isn't she?
To untangle the mysterious, wretched present, she remembers the past.
I wished I were a boy.
Locked away in the dingy bowels of the hall, she feels a fire burn inside her. She remembers her cousin. She remembers Papa.
I want to be a doctor.
She is determined to escape- and only love will set her free.
~description taken from book jacket
I got this book out from the library on the whim, vaguely remembering a review of it I'd read somewhere. I only decided to actually read it because I just signed up for a reading challenge that this book fits. I AM SO GLAD I DID.
Wildthorn steps right into the drama- Louisa is admitted into an asylum under the name Lucy Childs. For the first part of the novel, the author switches between Louisa's time at the institution and her childhood, where you learn about her studious nature and desire to become a doctor. Normally, when an author skips around with points of view or timelines like this this I find myself aligning more with one storyline than the other. Here I was equally interested in both of them, which is due to the intense emotional attachment I felt with the Louisa. In most of the books I read, I read about the protagonist, but here I became her. Reading Wildthorn was simply an amazing experience, one you shouldn't miss out on.
Another aspect of the novel that made me really happy was the discussion of sexuality. It's rare to encounter LGBT characters in historical YA fiction, so that alone was interesting. However, the main thing I liked was how well it was handled. I've noticed that when some authors write gay or lesbian characters that tends to be their defining characteristic, which annoys me. In Wildthorn it was definitely treated as an important detail, but not so much that it took over the story.