Summary and book reviews of Wolf Season by Helen Benedict

Wolf Season

by Helen Benedict

Wolf Season by Helen Benedict X
Wolf Season by Helen Benedict
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Oct 2017, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

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About this Book

Book Summary

After a hurricane devastates a small town in upstate New York, the lives of three women and their young children are irrevocably changed.

Rin, an Iraq War veteran, tries to protect her blind daughter and the three wolves under her care. Naema, a widowed doctor who fled Iraq with her wounded son, faces life-threatening injuries and confusion about her feelings for Louis, a veteran and widower harboring his own secrets and guilt. Beth, who is raising a troubled son, waits out her marine husband's deployment in Afghanistan, equally afraid of him coming home and of him never returning at all.

As they struggle to maintain their humanity and find hope, their war-torn lives collide in a way that will affect their entire community.

"We're here!" Juney sings out. She knows the town of Huntsville even when it's midmorning quiet and raining: the asphalt steaming, the wet-dust funk of newly soaked concrete.

Rin drives down the main drag, a wide, lonely street with half its windows boarded up and not a soul to be seen. A Subway on the left, a Dunkin' Donuts on the right, its sign missing so many letters it reads, duk do. The CVS and three banks that knocked out all the local diners and dime stores. A Styrofoam cup skitters along the gutter, chipped and muddied by rain.

Pulling up the hill into an asphalt parking lot, Rin chooses a spot as far away from the other cars as she can get, her stomach balling into a leathery knot. She hates this town. She hates this clinic. She hates doctors and nurses. She hates people.

Pause, swallow, command the knot to release. It won't. She sweeps her eyes over the macadam, down the hill to the clinic, over to the creek bubbling along behind it. Back and forth, back and...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. This book explores the long-reaching effects of war, not only on those directly engaged in it but on those close to them. How are the three mothers in the novel—Rin, Naema, and Beth—affected by war, and how does it affect their children, Juney, Tariq, and Flanner?
  2. Wolf Season opens with an approaching hurricane. What is the fallout from the storm on each character? What is the effect of opening the novel with such an event?
  3. Wolves have long been symbols in folktales and literature all over the world, from ancient myths, such as those of Native peoples in America, to the European story of "Little Red Riding Hood." Sometimes wolves stand for nobility and courage, sometimes evil, sometimes threat. What do you think the wolves...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The main theme here is "how very long the reach of war turns out to be," as Naema puts it. I found a few of the coincidental connections between characters a bit hard to believe, and thought the book might have packed more punch if the collisions of characters and subplots had been allowed to get even darker at the end. However, the novel is a powerful picture of the limits of compassion and the knee-jerk nature of emotions: prejudice directed against immigrants and the fear of wolves.   (Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).

Full Review Members Only (583 words).

Media Reviews

Chronogram

Wolf Season is honest about suffering, trauma, and the difficulty of healing after war...[The novel] reminds us that we do what's best for our family - our pack - even if it's the thing that hurts the most.

Time Now

Wolf Season takes contemporary war-and-mil-writing preoccupation with dogs to its fantastical-yet-logical extension... Rin and Naema are compellingly drawn, as are Rin's daughter Juney and Naema's son Tariq and the three wolves, Gray, Silver, and Ebony. Most striking, however, are two male characters, Louis Martin and Todd Wycombe, both veterans struggling to be men worthy of respect.

Kirkus Reviews

Affecting...The 'very long reach of war' transcends generations.

Publishers Weekly

Gripping... A low level of dread builds slowly, drawing readers toward the inevitable climactic clash, though Benedict's memorable and complicated characterization is the true highlight.

Booklist

Compelling... Benedict doesn't shy away from her characters' very different faults as they grasp for courage and resilience during their dark times.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Unflinching... In a book that deserves the widest attention, Benedict 'follows the war home,' engaging readers with an insightful story right up until the gut-wrenching conclusion.

Author Blurb Elissa Schappell, author of Use Me and Blueprints for Building Better Girls
No one writes with more authority or cool-eyed compassion about the experience of women in war both on and off the battlefield than Helen Benedict... Wolf Season is more than a novel for our times; it should be required reading.

Author Blurb Cara Hoffman, author of Be Safe I Love You and Running
Fierce and vivid and full of hope, this story of trauma and resilience, of love and family, of mutual aid and solidarity in the aftermath of a brutal war is nothing short of magic.

Author Blurb Matt Gallagher, author of Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War and Youngblood
A novel of love, loss, and survival, Wolf Season delves into the complexities and murk of the after-war with blazing clarity. You will come to treasure these characters for their strengths and foibles alike. Helen Benedict has delivered yet again, and contemporary war literature is much the better for it.

Author Blurb [Helen Benedict] has emerged as one of our most thoughtful and provocative writers of war literature.
David Abrams, author of Fobbit and Brave Deeds, at the Quivering Pen

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Beyond the Book

Keeping Wolves as Pets in the United States

In Helen Benedict's novel Wolf Season, a character illegally keeps pet wolves behind a fence on her upstate New York property. At first her neighbors don't believe she actually has wolves – they think it's just a rumor passed around by children – but when they realize the wolves are real they become alarmed and look for legal means to address the situation.

The European Grey Wolf Throughout history, attempts have been made to domesticate wolves to help with certain human activities, such as pulling sleds, serving as hunting dogs, or working as police dogs. Wolves and wolf–dog hybrids may seem like appealing pets for animal-lovers, but there are some serious reasons why owning a wolf should not be considered a valid alternative to owning a ...

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