Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (2016)

It was the autumn of 1943 when my steady life began to spin, not only because of the war that had drawn the whole world into a screaming brawl, but also because of the dark-hearted girl who came to our hills and changed everything (p 1).

WolfHollowWolf Hollow is a searing snapshot of America amidst its second great war, told through the microcosm of a small, rural Pennsylvania community with the exquisite narration of a compassionate and intelligent girl on the cusp of adulthood.

When Betty Glengarry comes to town to live with her grandmother, she quickly establishes herself as a bully, using her size to domineer and her lies to manipulate. Annabelle becomes her target, for reasons that are both immediately apparent and not, revealing something of Betty’s own struggles and unhappiness.

When Annabelle confronts Betty, the big girl’s malice is redirected to Toby, the wandering, slightly affected war veteran who has a quiet, undefined friendship with Annabelle. He proves and easy target, and escalating assaults leave Toby in the community crosshairs.  Annabelle must employ all her cunning to uncover the truth while protecting her younger brothers and Toby from Betty’s attacks.

Annabelle’s ability to sympathize with both her oppressor and the bully’s victims is the novels paramount strength built upon a narrative strong in setting, atmosphere, tone, and delivery. It quickly feels like a classic with its complex narrative, well-rounded community of characters, and a deft, heart-breaking conclusion that does justice to the text.

Kirkus’s praises, “Wolk builds her story deliberately through Annabelle’s past-tense narration in language that makes no compromises but is yet perfectly simple,” awarding it a starred review.

A starred review in Publisher’s Weekly has this to say: Annabelle’s astute observations of the Pennsylvania woods and the people who populate Wolf Hollow will resonate with many readers as they present a profound view of a complex era tinged by prejudice and fear.

Personal copy | Dutton’s Children’s Books | 978-1101994825 | 291 pages | Ages 12+

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