History of Wolves

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

4/5 stars

This tells the story of Linda who grows up in the remains of an abandoned commune with her parents in Northern Minnesota. I think this book is best consumed when you go into this story blind and appreciate the story as it unfolds. I will try to avoid spoilers in the review, but if you have not yet read this book and wish to, I might skip this until you have read it!

This whole story from the very beginning has a very unsettling tension that is sustained through the whole story. There is just a whiff of unease that you keep glimpsing out of the corner of your eye. It certainly kept me guessing about what exactly was off, she kept leading you up these false trails with confidence thinking ha! I’ve solved it! Only to realize you were wrong again. I thought this was especially clever, as our main protagonist has experienced a very unusual childhood and does not react to social cues in a conventional way. This writing style sort of carried you into our protagonists head and had us experience her world view. Linda feels safer in the woods near her home where she has grown up. The descriptions of nature were beautiful and evoked feelings of peace and comfort. The beauty and cyclical nature if the woods and its wildlife made it knowable and it’s dangers predictable. In contrast, human rules are always changing and people often react and behave in unpredictable ways.

The two parallell story lines were very interesting to contrast together, and to see the different outcomes of these two childhoods. This story discusses how our beliefs can colour our choices and the lifelong consequences of those choices.

This story is an excellent example of a meandering storyline done well. Each piece felt like it needed to be there and added to the story, even if it wasn’t directly, it added to the tone or development of character. I highly enjoyed this and eagerly look forward to more by this author!

Manbooker thoughts, I would be happy to see this on the shortlist! I thought the writing was beautiful and the story had some very thought provoking moments and themes. This is the debut work for this author and I think that it deserves the recognition. I would happily recommend this to people who enjoyed Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller or The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Manbooker 2017 7/13

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