"Wild Abandon" by Joe Dunthorne

Seventeen-year-old Kate and eleven-year-old Albert have spent their entire lives on a secluded Welsh commune led by their father. What was once a vibrant community full of potential is now disintegrating, just like their parents marriage. To escape, Kate heads off for school and suburban life with her boyfriend. Albert stays on the commune and begins preparations for the end of the world, something he is sure is coming soon.

But their father Don isn't going to let the community break up so easily. He decides that the best way to keep his family together and attract new wwoofers (those looking to volunteer on an organic farm) to the commune is to throw a rave complete with a 10k soundsystem. The last day on earth is coming. Bring Your Own Booze.

Wild Abandon is Joe Dunthorne's second novel. It is a typical coming of age story set in very untypical territory. It contains a colourful cast of characters who together make a perfect comedic combination. Suburban life and the middle class are expertly played out against the idealistic group of the commune.

Wild Abandon is a comic novel, one of understated humour, one that doesn't go for cheap laughs but is smart and darkly funny. The character of Albert was my favourite. That kid had me laughing in spots I probably wasn't supposed to. His wit and maturity were wonderfully written. Dunthorne expertly crafted each character so that they seemed like a real person you could meet on the street.

That being said this novel wasn't quite what I was expecting. There isn't too much to the plot, no major ups and downs, goings-on. Rather it is a commentary, a story of people and how they come to be who they are, how they interact and respond to their surroundings. However, Dunthorne's writing was more than enough to keep me turning the pages. While it started a bit slow for me personally, his characters soon had me wrapped up and wondering how I too could spend some time on the commune as a wwoofer.

I would like to thank Penguin Canada for providing me with a copy of this book.


  1. Nice honest review. Too bad it wasn't as you expected. Sounds like it had alot of telling and no action. But it's good it was enjoyable nonetheless. Thanks for sharing.


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