Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

This story echoes "To Kill a Mockingbird," but the plot takes unexpected turns and the author makes it her own tale. Beautifully written with a strong rural setting, it shows the complexities of human nature and the moral choices people make that are damaging or healthy. The choice of lying versus telling the truth. The choice of judging others based on public news or factual information. How mob mentality can be manipulated by lies and more. The layering of themes, excellent character development, and the well-crafted plot makes this an intense worthwhile read.

Twelve-year-old Annabelle, the main character, tells the reader that she has learned to lie in the summer of 1943. When Betty, a city girl with troubles, arrives at her grandparent's house in Wolf Hollow, Annabelle has to deal with her as a bully. She is physically and verbally abusive to Annabelle until she's defended by Toby, a war veteran that is an outcast in society; a lone wolf in the novel. Annabelle learns to deal with the bullying until it takes a dark turn with Betty upping the stakes and attacking others. Annabelle doesn't tell anyone right away because Betty threatens to hurt her younger brothers. When she starts to hurt them anyway, then she tells her parents. I skimmed this part. This is a common plot device to move the story forward and I thought it slowed the pacing a bit. But it's a brief bump on the tar and the rest is unpredictable and twisty.

When Betty can't bully Annabelle she devises a nasty way of directing blame for a serious injury she causes toward another student by accusing Toby of the deed. Betty tries to prove him right but circumstances work against them. Wolf Hollow got its name because wolves were shot and killed sometimes because of their appearance only and other times because they killed livestock. Characters in the story are like wolves: killed for appearances, preying on others, or protecting the wolf pack. All these patterns can be seen in Annabelle, Betty, and Toby. This is a hard book to write about without giving away the plot. Suspenseful and layered, it's easy to see why it won a Newbery Honor in 2017.

5 Smileys

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