From my Goodreads review: I'm a sucker for stories about orphans who go live with an eccentric and/or curmudgeonly distant relation/foster parent and both parties soften their hearts and learn to trust each other. Anne of Green Gables was possibly the first (though I think Dickens probably invented the genre), and The Great Gilly Hopkins is another classic.
Wild Things is a particularly good rendition of exactly that plot line: when Zoe's mentally unstable mother commits suicide, she is sent to live with her paternal uncle Henry, a cardiologist-turned-sculptor who withdrew from the world when his wife died. There's a cat who Zoe slowly tames, a wild boy who lives in the forest with an albino deer, and various small-town characters, both nice and not-so-nice, to add interesting plot complications. But the essential story of Zoe and Henry learning to open their scarred hearts to one another is colorful and touching and beautifully written.
The cat is a particularly appealing character who gets to narrate little snippets between the chapters. I also loved the setting, which is lovingly and vividly rendered.
Wild Things is like homemade apple pie with a sort-of messy-looking crust that's the flakiest you've ever tasted.
For more great middle-grade reads, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.