History of Wolves

History of Wolves

Book - 2017
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Already being acclaimed as one of the most exciting new voices of 2017, Emily Fridlund's History Of Wolves is a brilliant coming-of-age novel that will appeal to fans of The Girls and The Virgin Suicides. Even a lone wolf wants to belong.... Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of northern Minnesota. The other girls at school call Linda 'Freak', or 'Commie'. Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices, whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on. So when the perfect family mother, father and their little boy, Paul move into the cabin across the lake, Linda insinuates her way into the family's orbit. She begins to babysit Paul and feels welcomes, that she finally has a place to belong. But something isn't right. Drawn into secrets she doesn't understand, Linda must make a choice. But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand what the consequences will be?
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London : 2017
ISBN: 9781474602952
Branch Call Number: AF FRID


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Nov 02, 2018

Read the book again in December/January prior to trip to Tuscon?

Jun 12, 2018

Maybe I've read too many "rural women in peril"* novels recently, but this one just didn't grab me. I found nothing particularly interesting about the narrator Linda or most of the other characters. I kept waiting for the back story of the failed commune to bear fruit, but that went nowhere. Same with Lily, by far the most interesting character in the book. Despite learning about the looming tragedy early in the book, I kept reading in the hope there would be a twist or a development that would pull the different threads together, only to be disappointed. I will say that the author has a poetic gift for writing about nature and our relationship to it.

*(Much better, IMO: "Idaho" by Emily Ruskovich and "The Marsh King's Daughter" by Karen Dione).

Jun 11, 2018

This would seem to be a YA novel, but it is not. The narrator looks back on her teenage years, sometimes in fragments mixed with recollections of other periods in her later life, and tells of a tragedy that slowly unfolds -- in direct, explicit terms and sometimes with crude language. As if in deliberate contrast to this, the prose and storytelling are as beautiful and seemingly natural as the snow on the trees and lakes of the Minnesota backwoods setting. The narrative is sometimes (deliberately) confused, lost in a fog of memory, and the characters are enigmatic but drawn in detail, as is the religion that becomes the "villain" in the story. This is a haunting (and sometimes shockingly honest) "history".

smc_1 Feb 17, 2018

Atmospheric, bleak, beautifully-written read - with an unpredictable, looming sense of dread. About isolation, belonging, family and coming-of-age. Grab a cozy blanket, a mug of something warm and indulge!

Nov 29, 2017

This is a haunting book - recommended if you are looking for something serious and disturbing. It was easy to feel lonely, sad, and confused all at the same time while reading it. I picked up this book knowing nothing about the plot - I thought it would be about someone who lives in the woods with wolves (this book has nothing to do with wolves). I didn't see it heading the direction it did (I try to avoid books with kids dying in them). It is beautifully written in many parts. The subplot with Lily and the teacher wasn't necessary, in my opinion. I'd like to read the author's next book.

Nov 28, 2017

This book was short-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize but I really can’t work out why. It does well enough as a first novel – and perhaps that is its appeal – but it doesn’t have the depth or skill that I would expect in a shortlist for an award of the calibre of the Man Booker. (That said, the Booker shortlist is not necessarily a fool-proof guide to quality!) Its shortlisting only serves to highlight its shortcomings.
The descriptions of landscape are excellent, especially those of the snow that blankets the lake and isolates them even further. But there are too many themes in the book (belonging, dominance, the distinction between act and intent) and the writer labours them. It’s not a bad book by any means and, indeed, I enjoyed reading it, but the marketing world of the Man Booker Prize has shifted it beyond its grade, and done it a disservice.

For my full review, see https://residentjudge.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/history-of-wolves-by-emily-fridlund/

Nov 07, 2017


Oct 06, 2017

A rare, intelligent, honest book. It made me think about isolation, the way one person can blind another, about desire and the worlds of guilt and loneliness a person can carry within themselves. I hope it wins the Booker this month!

TSCPL_Miranda Aug 28, 2017

Compelling, lyrical, and skillfully crafted. The narrative voice is distinct and the story is memorable. Bonus: it inspired me with ideas for my own writing.

Jun 18, 2017

A wonderfully written debut coming of age novel about Madeline the 14 year old resident of a former commune and her summer babysitting 4 year old Paul and resulting interaction with his parents Petra and Leo. Lots of great foreshadowing that something terrible happens that summer and the reflections of adult Madeline about the lasting damage.

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