By Lauren Wolk
Hardcover, 291 pages
2016, Dutton Children’s Books
Annabelle’s town is a quiet one until Betty Glengarry arrives, staying with her grandparents and attending Annabelle’s school. Betty instantly dislikes Annabelle. Annabelle does her best to avoid the bully, but there’s a target painted on her back. But soon that target moves to Toby, the strange but quiet war veteran who lives the life of a hermit near Annabelle’s family farm. Annabelle might be the only one willing to stick up for Toby and she will need all her courage to stand up to the charges leveled against him.
I read this book because Danielle mentioned it on her IG feed. A Newbury Honor middle-grade that sounds like it could be depressing? Sign me up!
I didn’t take notes on this book because I was too busy reading it in two sittings, so bear with me as I stumble through my jumbled thoughts.
Let’s see…topics Wolf Hollow deals with (excellently): Bullying, standing up for what you believe is right, trauma, dealing with the consequences of your actions, lying, friendship, grief, prejudice and supporting your family. This book handles a lot of heavy topics and while it’s not an entirely easy read, I think it has the right mix of honesty, tough themes and positive moments.
I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I sound silly. This book was excellent, ok!?
Annabelle is a young girl whose head and heart are in the right place. She’s a mature twelve to be sure (far more mature than many of the protags found in YA), though that’s to be expected of one who’s grown up on a farm during WWII. She has her “young” moments too – while I would have believed her to be fourteen, I don’t think her behavior was too mature.
Better examples than my babbling are quotes from Annabelle.
On Toby’s experience in WWI: “Even though I was only eleven, I knew enough about fear to conclude that being completely afraid, body and soul, was probably enough to make a person strange forever after.”
In talking about how the bullying situation spiraled out of control: “It happened in little bits, not all at once, and it wasn’t easy to figure out what to do along the way.”
On living: “If my life was to be just a single note in an endless symphony, how could I not sound it out for as long and as loudly as I could?”
I cried a little towards the end, as I suspected I would, and we all know how much that enhances my reading experience (er, or, if you don’t know, I really love when books move me to tears).
I’m happy I made this book a priority and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves middle-grade, American History and tears.
Also, how beautiful is this cover?!