Summary and book reviews of History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

History of Wolves

by Emily Fridlund

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund X
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2017, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Winner of the McGinnis-Ritchie award for its first chapter, Emily Fridlund's propulsive and gorgeously written History of Wolves introduces a new writer of enormous range and talent.

Fourteen-year-old Linda 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, Linda is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is charged with possessing child pornography, the implications of his arrest deeply affect Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong.

And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Linda finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. It seems that her life finally has purpose but with this new sense of belonging she is also drawn into secrets she doesn't understand. Over the course of a few days, Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. As she struggles to find a way out of the sequestered world into which she was born, Linda confronts the life-and-death consequences of the things people do - and fail to do - for the people they love.

1

It's not that I never think about Paul. He comes to me occasionally before I'm fully awake, though I almost never remember what he said, or what I did or didn't do to him. In my mind, the kid just plops down into my lap. Boom. That's how I know it's him: there's no interest in me, no hesitation. We're sitting in the Nature Center on a late afternoon like any other, and his body moves automatically toward mine—not out of love or respect, but simply because he hasn't yet learned the etiquette of minding where his body stops and another begins. He's four, he's got an owl puzzle to do, don't talk to him. I don't. Outside the window, an avalanche of poplar fluff floats by, silent and weightless as air. The sunlight shifts, the puzzle cleaves into an owl and comes apart again, I prod Paul to standing. Time to go. It's time. But in the second before we rise, before he whines out his protest and asks to stay a little ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. This book is narrated in a nonlinear fashion. Linda mixes her timelines and reveals details to us in a surprising order. How does this structure serve the story that Linda is telling? Why do you think the author chose to tell it this way?
  2. "Before Paul, I'd known just one person who'd gone from living to dead." (p. 4) How does it affect you to know that four-year-old Paul is dead before you are introduced to him as a character? Does this change how you understand and take in the events that occur later on?
  3. "My name was Madeline, but at school I was called Linda, or Commie, or Freak." (p. 8) Over the course of the book, our protagonist is called Linda, Mattie, the Teenager, CEO, Girl Scout, the Fool,...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

This is a compelling and unconventional narrative where we are asked to examine degrees of guilt and complicity. Is a sexual predator still a predator if he does not act on his impulses, guilty for what he merely thinks of doing? Where do we place neglect on the spectrum of harmful acts? History of Wolves is also unique because the main character is on the periphery of someone else's tragedy, yet no less impacted, no less a victim.   (Reviewed by Lisa Butts).

Full Review (528 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.

Media Reviews

NPR

Electrifying ... History of Wolves isn't a typical thriller any more than it's a typical coming-of-age novel; Fridlund does a remarkable job transcending genres without sacrificing the suspense that builds steadily in the book ... as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set." - NPR

Library Journal

Fridlund is a fine writer who excels at getting inside the head of an unhappy youth and revealing how neglect and isolation scar a child for life. Yet this first novel, as cold and bleak as a Minnesota winter, may be too dark for some readers.

Publishers Weekly

Starred and Boxed Review. [A] stellar debut ... Fridlund has elegantly crafted a striking protagonist whose dark leanings cap off the tragedy at the heart of this book, which is moving and disturbing, and which will stay with the reader.

Booklist

Starred Review. The writing is beautiful ... a triumph of tone and attitude. Lovers of character-driven literary fiction will embrace this

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. The novel has a tinge of fairy tale, wavering on the blur between good and evil, thought and action. But the sharp consequences for its characters make it singe and sing - a literary tour de force.

Author Blurb Aimee Bender
What powerful tension and depth this provides! I'm so excited for readers to encounter the talent and roiling intelligence of Emily Fridlund.

Author Blurb Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet
Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt down, exhausted, and stayed.' So much is accomplished here, not least a kind of trust that this writer will make everything count, including the kind of data that is usually left for dead in a story. What is literary authority, after all, but the ability to regularly, without apparent effort, make the most of every sentence, build feeling in every line and do it in such a way that is tough, tight, funny, and often brilliantly disruptive?

Author Blurb T.C. Boyle
As exquisite a first novel as I've ever encountered. Poetic, complex and utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful.

Author Blurb Leif Enger
Emily Fridlund's language is generous and precise, her story grief-tempered and forcefully moving. History of Wolves is the loneliest thing I've read in years, and it's gorgeous. These are haunted pages.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Christian Science

Christian Science was founded in 1894 by Mary Baker Eddy as a means of embracing "primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." The foundational text is Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, published in 1875, which Emily Fridlund references several times in History of Wolves.

The administrative headquarters of the Christian Science church in Boston, MassachusettsMary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) grew up in a family of devout Puritans, and her early life was beset by hardship. She was frequently ill as a child, and as a young woman she lost both her brother and husband in a short span. Beginning in 1862, Eddy was in correspondence with Phineas P. Quimby, proponent of an early form of homeopathy. She combined Quimby's beliefs with her own religious convictions to create Science and Health and launch the ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked History of Wolves, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Story of Arthur Truluv
    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg
    Elizabeth Berg's heartwarming novel scored an an impressive 4.4 average rating from the 48 members ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Ballad
    The Last Ballad
    by Wiley Cash
    Ella May WigginsA hundred years ago or so, farming land west of Charlotte, North Carolina was given over to giant ...
  • Book Jacket: Future Home of the Living God
    Future Home of the Living God
    by Louise Erdrich
    Louise Erdrich began Future Home of the Living God in 2002, set it aside, and picked it up again in ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

At once a love story, a history lesson and a beautifully written tale of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Wonder Valley
    by Ivy Pochoda

    A visionary and masterful portrait of contemporary L.A. from the author of Visitation Street.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

I write to add to the beauty that now belongs to me

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E Dog H I D

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.