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History of Wolves: A Novel by Emily Fridlund

History of Wolves: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Emily Fridlund (Author)

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4773321,645 (3.61)1 / 88
Title:History of Wolves: A Novel
Authors:Emily Fridlund (Author)
Info:Atlantic Monthly Press (2017), Edition: 1st Edition, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned

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History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund



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English (31)  French (1)  All (32)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
I was finding it hard to put into words why I loved this book so I read all the reviews, disparate as they were. I'm not sure anyone really "got" it, nor did I, but that did not interfere with my enjoyment. I loved the writing, the sense of place, the distance one feels from Linda (as she feels from herself), and even the seemingly unrelated story lines. Reading it again would really help, but there is too much else to read!

Fridlund should rewrite it! What she was trying to say is important: Linda's identification with wolves and with Lily, who was possibly abused by her teacher; the destructive power of religious (or cult) belief; Linda's kindness to Paul, making up for her own mother's distance; the inability of a girl that age with that background to understand or express what she feels or believes.

And perhaps she would change the ending to unite all the threads in a more satisfying way. ( )
  bobbieharv | Mar 10, 2018 |
** spoiler alert ** What are we without a moral compass? How does a person whose compass is bent or broken through no fault of their own, decide right from wrong? Linda is such a person. Raised poorly for the first five years in a commune, she was more a random kid than someone's child. When the group fell apart, leaving her parents as the remaining inhabitants, Mom went religion crazy while Dad stayed aloof from the world, while teaching his daughter survival skills.
When a new family moves into a recently constructed home across the lake, Linda is soon pulled into their world. Told in back and forth fashion from her late 30s and her growing up from the time the commune dissolved through her teen years, this is an extremely interesting story of how a person can and does look at events in very different ways as they mature and are influenced by other peoples' experiences. Dark, sad, insightful and a really good read. ( )
  sennebec | Feb 24, 2018 |
I don't even know what to say about this book. I was really looking forward to reading this book that takes place in my home state because not many are... but reading about things and places I recognize was the only good thing about this book. It was really confusing with lots of constant back and forth with flashbacks and things made up in the mind of the main character. Really disappointing. ( )
  pennma05 | Jan 29, 2018 |
Emily Fridlund debut her first novel in September of 2017. History of Wolves was immediately recognized by the Booker Prize Committee with a position on the 2017 shortlist. According to the dust jacket, she grew up in Minnesota. She has published several fiction pieces, and she has a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Southern California. Her collection of short stories, Catapult, won the Noemi Book Award for Fiction and the Mary McCarthy Prize. She currently lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

This ethereal story is about Linda, a young girl of 15 who is a loner in her high school. No one bothers her, and she keeps to herself. Another young girl, Lily is popular, has a boyfriend, but some rumors have ruined her reputation. Linda becomes curious about Lily, and she follows her around campus, and she never opens herself up to Lily, in fact she rarely has a word of conversation until the end of the novel. When Lily disappears, Linda goes to her house and asks about her. Other characters include Mr. Grierson, a new history teacher at the school, and Patra, a woman living in a remote cabin with her son, Paul. Patra’s husband, Leo is, she says, an “astronomer” away from home while he does his starry thing. Paul anxiously awaits he father’s return.

Linda is a free spirit, and she seems to wander around as she will. Her parents trust her, and they do not pry into her life or whereabouts. She is also the narrator. In her wanderings, Linda visit a nearby cabin and meets Paul, then his mother, they go for a walk, and Linda becomes Paul’s nanny. Fridlund writes, “In April, I started taking Paul for walks in the woods while his mother revised a manuscript of her husband’s research. The printed pages lay in batches around the cabin, on the countertop and under chairs. There were also stacks of books and pamphlets. I’d peeked at the titles. Predictions and Promises: Extraterrestrial Bodies. Science and Health with a Key to the Scriptures. The Necessities of Space. // ‘Just keep clear of the house for a few hours’ were Patra’s instructions. I was given snacks in Baggies, pretzels wound into small brown bows. I was given water bottles in a blue backpack, books about trains, Handi Wipes, coloring books and crayons, suntan lotion. These went on my back. Paul went in my hand. His little fingers were damp and wiggling. But he was trusting, never once seeming to feel the shock of my skin touching his” (40). There are some peculiar clues here. It turns out that none of these characters are what they seem. It is not exactly a mystery, but is an absorbing read.

I found the story absorbing, and while the ending was not a surprise, the way the story ended left me mystified. As I chased after the end of the novel, I expected a certain outcome, but it never came. I sensed a touch of a Scandinavian writer. Ironically, I have been reading a lot of literature from the north lands lately. It has that sparse, serious tone. Linda, for example, lives largely in her mind, and her conversations with Paul are interesting. Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves is a story with much to recommend it. I was really only slightly annoyed as I closed the book. 4-1/2 Stars.

--Chiron, 12-8-17 ( )
  rmckeown | Jan 6, 2018 |
There is some brilliant imagery in this book, and I love the voice of Linda (Madeline, Mattie - does the ambiguity over her name reflect her confused identity? - cos it's a bit annoying). She is very believably the product of a commune, with poor attachments and such a lack of supervision that it amounts to lack of care, skating very near to abuse. However, the folk she knows as her mother and father may not even be her biological parents, and they are very believably doing the best they can for her. No surprises that she can't let herself love and be loved, or actually grow up. For too long, she's been a child with adult expectations of her, and no credible, practical role models. Her own story is chilling enough, without the death of the neighbour's child. And Linda's reactions to that death are predictably confused - is it tragic? criminal? whose fault is it? - and the acquittal of the parents kind of absolves her own parents from responsibility of care for her. The whole story, seems to me, is about the lack of emotional connection between parents and children - children treated as things - children upon whom we visit our sometimes crazy ideals.
I believe that Linda thinks about wolves because their behaviour shows so much more care for each other, so much more community and family spirit, than she sees around her. There's not one happy family in this book, and no contented, cared for children. In a way it's a frightening portrait of middle America. Not a cheerful read, but enthralling. Try it! See what you think. There's masses to ponder. ( )
  ClareRhoden | Nov 4, 2017 |
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Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual,—neither in nor of matter,— and the body will then utter no complaints.

—Mary Baker Eddy,
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
I won’t be dying after all, not now, but will go on living dizzily hereafter in reality, half-deaf to reality, in the room perfumed by the fire that our inextinguishable will begins.

—Timothy Donnelly, “The New Intelligence”
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It's not that I never think about Paul.
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""So delicately calibrated and precisely beautiful that one might not immediately sense the sledgehammer of pain building inside this book. And I mean that in the best way. What powerful tension and depth this provides!"-Aimee Bender. Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in the beautiful, austere woods of northern Minnesota, where their nearly abandoned commune stands as a last vestige of a lost counter-culture world. Isolated at home and an outlander at school, Linda is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is charged with possessing child pornography, the implications of his arrest deeply affect Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong. And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Linda finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. It seems that her life finally has purpose but with this new sense of belonging she is also drawn into secrets she doesn't understand. Over the course of a few days, Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. As she struggles to find a way out of the sequestered world into which she was born, Linda confronts the life-and-death consequences of the things people do-and fail to do-for the people they love. Winner of the McGinnis-Ritchie award for its first chapter, Emily Fridlund's propulsive and gorgeously written History of Wolves introduces a new writer of enormous range and talent"--… (more)

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