History of Wolves

History of Wolves

Fourteen-year-old Madeline lives with her parents in the beautiful, austere woods of northern Minnesota, where their nearly abandoned commune stands as a last vestige of a lost counter-culture world. Isolated at home and an outlander at school, Madeline is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is charged with posses...

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Title:History of Wolves
Author:Emily Fridlund
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Edition Language:English

History of Wolves Reviews

  • Elyse

    "History of Wolves" is an exquisitely nuanced novel that tenderly and fiercely

    examines one of the abiding truths of the human condition....'the quest for *self* never ceases'!

    With little parent supervision, 14 year old Linda is left to grow up like a weed in Northern Minnesota. A typical afternoon for Linda, after - perhaps completing a Life Science exam in school would be to take off walking out of town - but first stop to buy licorice and cigarettes- smoke two in a row - stroll through milkw

    "History of Wolves" is an exquisitely nuanced novel that tenderly and fiercely

    examines one of the abiding truths of the human condition....'the quest for *self* never ceases'!

    With little parent supervision, 14 year old Linda is left to grow up like a weed in Northern Minnesota. A typical afternoon for Linda, after - perhaps completing a Life Science exam in school would be to take off walking out of town - but first stop to buy licorice and cigarettes- smoke two in a row - stroll through milkweed along a highway- watching bees and monarchs....paying attention to everything in her environment. If she saw pelicans floating overhead....she could feel exhilarated.

    Linda observes everything-- teachers, students, parents, kids, animals, ( especially dogs), clothes, shoes, smells, temperatures, beauty, shapes, sounds, and touch.

    She was particularly observant and obsessed about a schoolmate named Lily.

    Linda not only watches her closely-- one day she went to great lengths to follow her.

    Like a stalker....she followed Lily to the High School, through the empty halls, down a dark staircase, past the gym door, passed a trophy case. Lily was being quiet...but Linda was being more quiet as not to be seen.

    Linda knew so much about Lily whom she 'wasn't' friends with. She knew that Lily's mother had died in a car accident when she was 12 years old. She knew that her father dropped her off every morning in front of the baseball field. Linda knew that Lily went to see a special teacher during homeroom for dyslexic. She knew that her boyfriend had broken up with her a few days before Prom.

    Linda also knew of the story being spread that their teacher, Mr. Grierson, had taken her to the lake and kissed her.

    Mr. Grierson, recently came to the school from California , replacing another teacher. He's accused of being a child pornographer....yet, we are hardly aware of the 'layers' of where this journey takes us.

    In the meantime, for $10 a day, Linda babysits a little boy named Paul from 3-5pm every day after school. With Paul she might sit with him by the lake on warm wood and watch ducks arrive in droves, watching geese skid into the lake and snake black necks beneath the surface. Linda was great with Paul and you saw his own imagination grow while being outside in nature.

    Linda's was only 6 or 7 years old when her own mother started calling her CEO. --creating a distance - separateness at a very young age. Her mother wanted her 'alone' time when she cooked and cleaned.....saying Linda was too slow and too judge mental--( always watching closely for mistakes) "CEO CHILD"....

    ----My own mother never called me a CEO child, but she often said, "You do your thing, and I'll do mine". I was familiar with these detached mothering styles that Linda experienced.

    Things were different with Linda's father. Linda had two chores to do with him: chop wood and clean fish. They did it together until she was in High School. Their relationship feeling a little closer.

    Coming of Age....poignant & poetic....

    Linda's voice is fresh -- she keeps our mind turning until the very end.

    Beautiful and Brutal, this is a book I both admire and devoured. A strong 5 stars for this debut novel.

    Thank You Grove Atlantic, Netgalley, and Emily Fridlund

  • Paula Kalin

    Short-listed for the Booker prize in 2017, History of Wolves, is a beautifully written debut novel.

    This coming of age story is set in the gorgeously described woods of Northern Minnesota. Seen from the eyes of 14 year old Madeline, a wonderful story emerges about the distinction of what people think and what people do and their consequences.

    Madeline lives in the woods in the remains of an abandoned commune with her parents as the last survivors. She is pretty much left on her own. Other than cho

    Short-listed for the Booker prize in 2017, History of Wolves, is a beautifully written debut novel.

    This coming of age story is set in the gorgeously described woods of Northern Minnesota. Seen from the eyes of 14 year old Madeline, a wonderful story emerges about the distinction of what people think and what people do and their consequences.

    Madeline lives in the woods in the remains of an abandoned commune with her parents as the last survivors. She is pretty much left on her own. Other than chopping wood and cleaning fish with her father, she spends her time exploring nature and it’s inhabitants. At school Madeline is understandably socially inept. She is isolated and searching for some connection through a new teacher and a popular girl, Lily, that she follows secretly but isn’t a friend.

    The Gardner family moves in across the lake and Madeline forms a bond with Petra and her young son Paul. She babysits Paul and gets to know the family. Secrets emerge. Beliefs and inaction put the young child in harms way and the consequences are explored in the end.

    Other subplots are hinted at in Madeline’s story - obsession, child neglect, bullying, and child pornography, but only touched upon. I enjoyed the way the author wrapped up the plot and subplot in the end.

    A beautifully written book.

    5 out of 5 stars

  • Cheri

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    “Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt down, exhausted, and stayed. In the middle of December so much snow fell that the gym roof buckled, and school was cancelled for a week.”

    Emily Fridlund’s debut novel is a moving story of a young girl who lives on the land of a former commune-type community. Her parents are relics from years gone by, late to the hippie party. Living off the land, they live in a shack, really. She’s young, a teenager, her given name is Madeline, but s

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    “Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt down, exhausted, and stayed. In the middle of December so much snow fell that the gym roof buckled, and school was cancelled for a week.”

    Emily Fridlund’s debut novel is a moving story of a young girl who lives on the land of a former commune-type community. Her parents are relics from years gone by, late to the hippie party. Living off the land, they live in a shack, really. She’s young, a teenager, her given name is Madeline, but she goes by Linda.

    No one’s lived across the lake from where Madeline lives with her parents, until her second year in High School, when Patra and Paul Gardner start appearing after a house is built. Husband / father Leo is busy with work elsewhere, but in the meantime his wife, Patra (short for Cleopatra) and four-year-old son Paul move into the house across the lake. It isn’t long before Linda is spending time taking care of young Paul. A bond grows, Paul trusts her, and she “gets” Paul.

    At school, there’s the new History teacher, Mr. Grierson, and another student, Lily, who take center stage. Mr. Grierson tries to revise the focus from what the former History teacher, Mr. Adler, whose focus was on Russian Tsars. Mr. Grierson would prefer something a little more “local” and “recent.” With this in mind, Grierson sets up a “History Odyssey” tournament of sorts, with judges and prizes. Mattie, as Grierson calls her, decides to do her speech on the History of Wolves.

    There’s a peculiarity to this novel that avoids classification with words. Partly in the setting, partly in the atmosphere of the home(s), but it’s also in the people. The people involved all seem to be slightly detached from their present, but it goes further than being attributed to their geographically remote lives. On some levels, they seem ordinary, although they’re not particularly likeable, but they’re interesting in their weirdness and their detachment.

    This is a book you can’t become complacent about while reading. It doesn’t happen often, but there are moments when suddenly you find yourself in another time and place, and Madeline / Linda / Mattie is taking you to another point in her life, allowing the story to build slowly, adding other elements into the equation, another perspective on how she got to be a girl so far from home, from herself.

    The writing is lovely, the story disturbing, strange and a bit haunting. At some point you’ll think that you know what is going to happen, but most of where it goes you will see unfolding as the end comes racing up. The unraveling of the “mystery” is only one part of this book, and as it unravels you begin to see how the lies will tell ourselves and others may come back to haunt us.

    Pub Date: 3 Jan 2017

    Many thanks to Grove Atlantic, NetGalley and to author Emily Fridlund for providing me with an ARC for reading and review.

  • Adina

    It seems I am against the tide with this year Booker Longlist. Most of the The Mookse and the Gripes group members tend to place this novel as their least favorite. I, on the other hand, liked it and disliked highly appreciated novels such as Lincoln in The Bardo.

    Now that we established that I have a twisted taste I will try to tell you why I enjoyed History of Wolves. Well, it wasn’t because of the Wolves as there is no physical presence of the animals in the pages of this novel. The MC is obs

    It seems I am against the tide with this year Booker Longlist. Most of the The Mookse and the Gripes group members tend to place this novel as their least favorite. I, on the other hand, liked it and disliked highly appreciated novels such as Lincoln in The Bardo.

    Now that we established that I have a twisted taste I will try to tell you why I enjoyed History of Wolves. Well, it wasn’t because of the Wolves as there is no physical presence of the animals in the pages of this novel. The MC is obsessed with them but otherwise, I am still trying to understand why it is named so.

    The story is told from Madeline’s (Linda or Mattie) point of view who lives in a ex-commune in the woods in Northern Minnesota, where only her parents were left. She is socially awkward, understandable, taking in consideration her upbringing. Her life changes when the Gardner family moves in the new house in the woods. She is immediately drawn by the 4 year old Paul and her mother. She soon becomes their baby sitter and the experience will change her life.

    The novel jumps forward and back in time, sometimes sloppily, as other complained, but most of the time the plot device succeeds to maintain tension. You see, we learn from the start that Paul dies in peculiar circumstances. We do not exactly what happens until the end. The reveal had an important impact on me as I feel strongly about this subject. I am not going to tell you what the main theme is as I believe you should discover it as you read.

    The novel touches a number of delicate themes that, at least on the surface, have nothing to do with each other. I can understand the other reviewers’ complains about the lack of a single coherent plot, the idea that she tries to say too much in a few pages. I thought the same way but the ending put things together nicely in a major argument. It deals mainly with action and inaction. Are we just as guilty if we do not do something, if we only think about it, if we do not act on our instincts and desires? Are we responsible for our thoughts and our inaction? Interesting thought material.

    The setting plays an important part in the construction of the novel. The author spends a lot of time painting the image of the rough but beautiful forests of North Minessota. I do not know if I was attracted by the natural environment because I was travelling through Norway at the time and I could see several common elements with what was in front of my eyes but I enjoyed the descriptions.

    The language resembled the place in many ways, it was crisp, direct and beautiful. I loved the straightforward way Linda was expressing her views.

    Below are the links for two interesting interviews with the author that you might want to check after you read this novel. Beware, it contains spoilers.

    Trivia: She was giving birth to her first child when she found out she was longlisted for the Booker Prize. What an amazing and rewarding day it must have been for her.

  • Hannah Greendale

    to watch a video review of this book on my channel,

    .

    An atmospheric coming-of-age with subtle tension and a plodding plot. Where Fridlund succeeds at transporting her audience to the chilled forest and snowy setting of

    , her wooden characters, whose actions lead to a limp reveal, leave something to be desired.

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