After slowly closing the 200 (ish) pages of Wolf Hollow (the book our bookclub selected to read this month), I couldn’t help but feel a bit hmm... unsettled. I had so many questions. Still have so many questions. Pieces of the novel were left intentionally incomplete. Unsettled, I think, was the point. Wolf Hollow made me stop and think (I’m still thinking about it)—Lauren Wolk did not hold back.
But before I get to the unsettled heaviness, I want to first mention my favorite piece. The family dynamic in Wolf Hollow is the real treat; the engagement and dialogue is so very raw and genuine. As someone with a strong sibling bond (hey Ty, hey Han!), I especially enjoyed the sweet sibling relationship. Annabelle, our protagonist, and her younger brother, Henry’s relationship, especially, develop and grow so beautifully by the end of the novel; it was my absolute favorite of the whole book.
Lauren Wolk's historical fiction Wolf Hollow stars 12 year old Annabelle, living on her family farm in Wolf Hollow, Pennsylvania with the whole family—Aunt Lily, two grandparents, two parents, and her two younger brothers, James and Henry.
World War 2 blazes headlines and church sermons as young Annabelle learns to confront some of her own battles in small town Wolf Hollow. Annabelle attracts the unwanted attention of new girl, Betty, who begins to torment Annabelle and her two brothers as they walk to and from school. As Betty’s pranks begin to grow in cruelty and life-threatening danger, Annabelle must learn how best to confront this new bully and protect those she cares about, preferably on her own—as the adults are more concerned with war against the Nazis.
Bias and truth carve the plot of this tale. Lauren Wolk, without flinching, reminds her readers, young and old, that even at 12 years old (our young heroine), or at 14, Betty, or even way into grandparent age territory, our actions affect others. Our words affect others. Both good and bad. Not a single character in this book is without fault or blame. Well, except maybe Annabelle’s youngest brother—James, he’s quite young and true innocent.
This was a heavy way to start the new year, but it felt important.
Even though I was left wanting more, I had hoped to understand Betty a bit better but alas, maybe that was Lauren Wolk’s point. Sometimes people do things and we often aren’t awarded the privilege to know why. Perhaps I should be asking more questions, trying to connect with the people around me more deeply. No, not perhaps, but yes, I definitely should be doing those things.
This pandemic makes connection trickier and a bit out of reach. I’m harnessing all my creativity to reach out to neighbors, friends, and family during our semi-isolated scenario.
If you’re a fan of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, oh yes, this one's for you.
Stars for Buttons rated this book as a satisfying 4.5 stars. If you’d like to join us for this month’s read and participate in voting for next months, we would love to have you! You can sign up here.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you pick this gem up at some point. And if this book sounds great, you might also like this other review of a similar-ish book. Hope you enjoy it.