By Lauren Wolk Genre: Historical fiction
Reviewed by Natalie 4/5 stars
Being hailed as a new To Kill a Mockingbird, Wolf Hollow relates the story of a school-aged girl, from a good family, who runs into trouble and befriends a reclusive man thought crazy by the town. However, it lacks the powerful social commentary found in Harper Lee’s classic work. Yet this YA book is nonetheless filled with important themes of truth and courage, making it a fantastic book to read along with your teens.
Annabelle, Wolf Hollow’s likable young heroine, lives in a farming community set in 1943. She loves to read and learn and is a good daughter to her parents. Betty, the antagonist, is a bully who decides to target Annabelle. But she’s not your average bully: Betty is frightening, cruel, and seems capable of anything. Annabelle’s life becomes more and more complicated as Betty commits heinous acts. But then one rainy day, Betty disappears. Everyone is quick to point the finger at the town recluse, but Annabelle is sure he is innocent. Her belief in him and attempt to prove his innocence leads her to create a web of lies she can’t untangle.
Stories with young protagonists who lie to their parents or superiors with seemingly few consequences can be dangerous guides, especially for younger readers – but this is not one of those stories. Annabelle discovers that she is unable to fix everything herself. Her parents are good and wise people who attempt to right the situation, but still the book doesn’t have a happy ending. Rather it’s a hopeful ending for Annabelle, as she is freed from the lies and secrets and ultimately learns the value of truth.
SPOILER ALERT: Those wanting to read this book themselves STOP HERE. However, if you are reading this with the intent of giving the book to your own young adult, keep reading. Wolf Hollow contains some elements that would be difficult for most younger teens (12-14) to handle. Annabelle’s Aunt Lily is a spinster who talks about God constantly, but uses God as a weapon (which we would obviously reject). She is a complete and utter hypocrite who spends her Sunday afternoons reading the Bible but fails to put anything she reads into action. The author aims to make her an object of contempt to the reader, and she is successful. There is a small glimpse of hope for her at the end of the book when she does admit she misjudged the recluse. In addition, a child dies (sadly, because of her own foolishness) and a man commits suicide by cop. None of this is described in great detail and isn’t gory or gruesome.
Purchase Wolf Hollow for yourself.
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