History of Wolves

History of Wolves

Fourteen-year-old Madeline 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, Madeline is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is charged with posses...

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Title:History of Wolves
Author:Emily Fridlund
Rating:
Edition Language:English

History of Wolves Reviews

  • Elyse

    "History of Wolves" is an exquisitely nuanced novel that tenderly and fiercely

    examines one of the abiding truths of the human condition....'the quest for *self* never ceases'!

    With little parent supervision, 14 year old Linda is left to grow up like a weed in Northern Minnesota. A typical afternoon for Linda, after - perhaps completing a Life Science exam in school would be to take off walking out of town - but first stop to buy licorice and cigarettes- smoke two in a row - stroll through milkw

    "History of Wolves" is an exquisitely nuanced novel that tenderly and fiercely

    examines one of the abiding truths of the human condition....'the quest for *self* never ceases'!

    With little parent supervision, 14 year old Linda is left to grow up like a weed in Northern Minnesota. A typical afternoon for Linda, after - perhaps completing a Life Science exam in school would be to take off walking out of town - but first stop to buy licorice and cigarettes- smoke two in a row - stroll through milkweed along a highway- watching bees and monarchs....paying attention to everything in her environment. If she saw pelicans floating overhead....she could feel exhilarated.

    Linda observes everything-- teachers, students, parents, kids, animals, ( especially dogs), clothes, shoes, smells, temperatures, beauty, shapes, sounds, and touch.

    She was particularly observant and obsessed about a schoolmate named Lily.

    Linda not only watches her closely-- one day she went to great lengths to follow her.

    Like a stalker....she followed Lily to the High School, through the empty halls, down a dark staircase, past the gym door, passed a trophy case. Lily was being quiet...but Linda was being more quiet as not to be seen.

    Linda knew so much about Lily whom she 'wasn't' friends with. She knew that Lily's mother had died in a car accident when she was 12 years old. She knew that her father dropped her off every morning in front of the baseball field. Linda knew that Lily went to see a special teacher during homeroom for dyslexic. She knew that her boyfriend had broken up with her a few days before Prom.

    Linda also knew of the story being spread that their teacher, Mr. Grierson, had taken her to the lake and kissed her.

    Mr. Grierson, recently came to the school from California , replacing another teacher. He's accused of being a child pornographer....yet, we are hardly aware of the 'layers' of where this journey takes us.

    In the meantime, for $10 a day, Linda babysits a little boy named Paul from 3-5pm every day after school. With Paul she might sit with him by the lake on warm wood and watch ducks arrive in droves, watching geese skid into the lake and snake black necks beneath the surface. Linda was great with Paul and you saw his own imagination grow while being outside in nature.

    Linda's was only 6 or 7 years old when her own mother started calling her CEO. --creating a distance - separateness at a very young age. Her mother wanted her 'alone' time when she cooked and cleaned.....saying Linda was too slow and too judge mental--( always watching closely for mistakes) "CEO CHILD"....

    ----My own mother never called me a CEO child, but she often said, "You do your thing, and I'll do mine". I was familiar with these detached mothering styles that Linda experienced.

    Things were different with Linda's father. Linda had two chores to do with him: chop wood and clean fish. They did it together until she was in High School. Their relationship feeling a little closer.

    Coming of Age....poignant & poetic....

    Linda's voice is fresh -- she keeps our mind turning until the very end.

    Beautiful and Brutal, this is a book I both admire and devoured. A strong 5 stars for this debut novel.

    Thank You Grove Atlantic, Netgalley, and Emily Fridlund

  • Cheri

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    “Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt down, exhausted, and stayed. In the middle of December so much snow fell that the gym roof buckled, and school was cancelled for a week.”

    Emily Fridlund’s debut novel is a moving story of a young girl who lives on the land of a former commune-type community. Her parents are relics from years gone by, late to the hippie party. Living off the land, they live in a shack, really. She’s young, a teenager, her given name is Madeline, but s

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    “Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt down, exhausted, and stayed. In the middle of December so much snow fell that the gym roof buckled, and school was cancelled for a week.”

    Emily Fridlund’s debut novel is a moving story of a young girl who lives on the land of a former commune-type community. Her parents are relics from years gone by, late to the hippie party. Living off the land, they live in a shack, really. She’s young, a teenager, her given name is Madeline, but she goes by Linda.

    No one’s lived across the lake from where Madeline lives with her parents, until her second year in High School, when Patra and Paul Gardner start appearing after a house is built. Husband / father Leo is busy with work elsewhere, but in the meantime his wife, Patra (short for Cleopatra) and four-year-old son Paul move into the house across the lake. It isn’t long before Linda is spending time taking care of young Paul. A bond grows, Paul trusts her, and she “gets” Paul.

    At school, there’s the new History teacher, Mr. Grierson, and another student, Lily, who take center stage. Mr. Grierson tries to revise the focus from what the former History teacher, Mr. Adler, whose focus was on Russian Tsars. Mr. Grierson would prefer something a little more “local” and “recent.” With this in mind, Grierson sets up a “History Odyssey” tournament of sorts, with judges and prizes. Mattie, as Grierson calls her, decides to do her speech on the History of Wolves.

    There’s a peculiarity to this novel that avoids classification with words. Partly in the setting, partly in the atmosphere of the home(s), but it’s also in the people. The people involved all seem to be slightly detached from their present, but it goes further than being attributed to their geographically remote lives. On some levels, they seem ordinary, although they’re not particularly likeable, but they’re interesting in their weirdness and their detachment.

    This is a book you can’t become complacent about while reading. It doesn’t happen often, but there are moments when suddenly you find yourself in another time and place, and Madeline / Linda / Mattie is taking you to another point in her life, allowing the story to build slowly, adding other elements into the equation, another perspective on how she got to be a girl so far from home, from herself.

    The writing is lovely, the story disturbing, strange and a bit haunting. At some point you’ll think that you know what is going to happen, but most of where it goes you will see unfolding as the end comes racing up. The unraveling of the “mystery” is only one part of this book, and as it unravels you begin to see how the lies will tell ourselves and others may come back to haunt us.

    Pub Date: 3 Jan 2017

    Many thanks to Grove Atlantic, NetGalley and to author Emily Fridlund for providing me with an ARC for reading and review.

  • Karen❄️

    3.5 rounded up to 4 because of the writing.

    15 year old Madeline(Linda) lives with her parents in the remains of an old commune, in the woods, in Northern Minnesota. Linda is by herself most of the time doing chores at home, poor household, and she seems socially inept with her classmates, etc

    A family moves in across the lake, a mother, father,and young son which Linda ends up babysitting often. She comes to feel like a huge part of that family, and then a situation arises with the little boy tha

    3.5 rounded up to 4 because of the writing.

    15 year old Madeline(Linda) lives with her parents in the remains of an old commune, in the woods, in Northern Minnesota. Linda is by herself most of the time doing chores at home, poor household, and she seems socially inept with her classmates, etc

    A family moves in across the lake, a mother, father,and young son which Linda ends up babysitting often. She comes to feel like a huge part of that family, and then a situation arises with the little boy that tears everything apart. This was heartbreaking!

    The story goes back and forth between time periods, Linda as a grownup and Linda as a 15 year old.

    I really don't believe this girl ever connected with anyone in her life like she did the young boy and his mother, and that made me so sad for her.

    The writing is very good, but I was left wanting more of a conclusion to the story. It ended strangely for me.

    Thank you to Atlantic Monthly Press, Emily Fridlund, and Netgalley!

  • Angela M

    3.5 rounded up.

    This is a haunting story of a young woman recalling events and circumstances in her life when she was 14. Madeline/Maddie/Linda is raised in a commune and living in the deserted remains of it in a cabin in northern Minnesota . She lives with her parents (and she's not even sure they are her parents), but what is clear is that Linda is an outsider. She's called freak at school and doesn't seem to connect with anyone or anything except the nature around her and much later we learn

    3.5 rounded up.

    This is a haunting story of a young woman recalling events and circumstances in her life when she was 14. Madeline/Maddie/Linda is raised in a commune and living in the deserted remains of it in a cabin in northern Minnesota . She lives with her parents (and she's not even sure they are her parents), but what is clear is that Linda is an outsider. She's called freak at school and doesn't seem to connect with anyone or anything except the nature around her and much later we learn the only real human connection she had was with a little girl who was in the commune when she was much younger. So it is not a surprise that she jumps at the chance to be part of something that seems normal at first, a family who moves in across the lake . Telling us her story as an adult, the narrative moved around in time, but mostly it's about what happens when she's 14 . There was a sadness about her from the beginning and she seems aware even as a teenager of how the circumstances of her life have shaped her, but it wasn't until towards the end that I realized that even as an adult, what happened in the past will always impact who she is .

    There are several threads and I had trouble trying to understand how they were related but in the end the connection of these threads - the teacher and Lily , the family whose religious views bring devastating consequences for their little boy, and Linda's upbringing all reflect what I saw as central to the novel - Linda's loneliness and her desire to have some normalcy in her life, to be cared about, to be recognized for herself. But throughout she remains on the sidelines observing , wanting to be included, wanting to be loved . I'm not sure if I had to explain the ending that I could do that . But what I am sure of is that this is a well written, thought provoking story and I will watch for other books by this debut author.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Grove Atlantic through NetGalley.

  • Maxwell

    Coming of ages novels, especially ones not aimed at young adult readers, can be a tricky business. Too much time spent on the character's age and youthful struggles and you risk losing the reader and the plot; but not enough time focused on that incredibly challenging period of life when you're coming into your own and learning to see the worl

    Coming of ages novels, especially ones not aimed at young adult readers, can be a tricky business. Too much time spent on the character's age and youthful struggles and you risk losing the reader and the plot; but not enough time focused on that incredibly challenging period of life when you're coming into your own and learning to see the world in new and often bleak and pessimistic ways, and the thread of the novel comes undone. I think Emily Fridlund handles that balance incredibly well in

    .

    I'm hesitant to say anything about the plot of this novel because I went into it with virtually no knowledge of the story and enjoyed the process of discovery. But at a basic level it's about guilt and innocence, when to speak up about something and when to stay silent, and the penance people often feel they must perform to atone for past actions. Essentially it's about how our lives and all the events in our lives stay with us, sometimes even haunt us, but also give us something to continue living for—it's up to us to figure out how to move forward with the weight of those experiences on our backs.

    This is the kind of book I'm so happy gets recognition from awards like the Man Booker Prize because I might not have otherwise heard about it or maybe not have been as compelled to pick it up. Instead, I was able to spend a Saturday lost in another story that I'm sure will stick with me for some time.

  • Adina

    It seems I am against the tide with this year Booker Longlist. Most of the The Mookse and the Gripes group members tend to place this novel as their least favorite. I, on the other hand, liked it and disliked highly appreciated novels such as Lincoln in The Bardo.

    Now that we established that I have a twisted taste I will try to tell you why I enjoyed History of Wolves. Well, it wasn’t because of the Wolves as there is no physical presence of the animals in the pages of this novel. The MC is obs

    It seems I am against the tide with this year Booker Longlist. Most of the The Mookse and the Gripes group members tend to place this novel as their least favorite. I, on the other hand, liked it and disliked highly appreciated novels such as Lincoln in The Bardo.

    Now that we established that I have a twisted taste I will try to tell you why I enjoyed History of Wolves. Well, it wasn’t because of the Wolves as there is no physical presence of the animals in the pages of this novel. The MC is obsessed with them but otherwise, I am still trying to understand why it is named so.

    The story is told from Madeline’s (Linda or Mattie) point of view who lives in a ex-commune in the woods in Northern Minnesota, where only her parents were left. She is socially awkward, understandable, taking in consideration her upbringing. Her life changes when the Gardner family moves in the new house in the woods. She is immediately drawn by the 4 year old Paul and her mother. She soon becomes their baby sitter and the experience will change her life.

    The novel jumps forward and back in time, sometimes sloppily, as other complained, but most of the time the plot device succeeds to maintain tension. You see, we learn from the start that Paul dies in peculiar circumstances. We do not exactly what happens until the end. The reveal had an important impact on me as I feel strongly about this subject. I am not going to tell you what the main theme is as I believe you should discover it as you read.

    The novel touches a number of delicate themes that, at least on the surface, have nothing to do with each other. I can understand the other reviewers’ complains about the lack of a single coherent plot, the idea that she tries to say too much in a few pages. I thought the same way but the ending put things together nicely in a major argument. It deals mainly with action and inaction. Are we just as guilty if we do not do something, if we only think about it, if we do not act on our instincts and desires? Are we responsible for our thoughts and our inaction? Interesting thought material.

    The setting plays an important part in the construction of the novel. The author spends a lot of time painting the image of the rough but beautiful forests of North Minessota. I do not know if I was attracted by the natural environment because I was travelling through Norway at the time and I could see several common elements with what was in front of my eyes but I enjoyed the descriptions.

    The language resembled the place in many ways, it was crisp, direct and beautiful. I loved the straightforward way Linda was expressing her views.

    Below are the links for two interesting interviews with the author that you might want to check after you read this novel. Beware, it contains spoilers.

    Trivia: She was giving birth to her first child when she found out she was longlisted for the Booker Prize. What an amazing and rewarding day it must have been for her.

  • Esil

    3+ stars. I'm really wavering in my reaction to History of Wolves -- things I liked, and things I didn't like so much. In the end, I think I felt that it had a few too many promising story strands that weren't complete or didn't quite come together. Linda aka Madeleine grows up in an old commune in northern Minnesota. She lives with two adults who have stayed on the property who may or may not be her parents. Her story moves back and forth in time, focusing on a few specific story lines -- thing

    3+ stars. I'm really wavering in my reaction to History of Wolves -- things I liked, and things I didn't like so much. In the end, I think I felt that it had a few too many promising story strands that weren't complete or didn't quite come together. Linda aka Madeleine grows up in an old commune in northern Minnesota. She lives with two adults who have stayed on the property who may or may not be her parents. Her story moves back and forth in time, focusing on a few specific story lines -- things that happen between a teacher and another girl at school, neighbours who have an ill son and their issues Linda can't quite grasp, and her later years working a string of bad jobs hanging out with a roommate and a boyfriend. Some of the most interesting parts of the story seem too undeveloped or fragmented to be entirely satisfying --for example, Linda's parents and the commune backstory, and the story involving the neighbours. Other parts feel like superfluous clutter -- like the story involving her school mate and teacher, and her later years with the boyfriend and roommate. As I write this, I think I'm starting to understand the point. This is Linda's subjective view of what she saw, what she understood, what she chose to focus on and what mattered to her as a teenager and young adult, and the consequences of only partially seeing and understanding. It's well written. I liked Linda's relationship with the natural environment she lived in. I expect many readers will love the dreamy quality of the writing. For me, I kept vacillating, much as I have done in this review. Having said that, I would give Fridlund's next book a try. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  • Linda

    Over the river and through the woods.....

    And through the woods and back again and again.

    History of Wolves is told through the perspective of fourteen year old Linda whose day-by-day trek through those woods reveals a very somber spirit. Her home is in an abandoned commune along the lake in northern Minnesota. We meet a dejected young girl who tries to make a connection with her outer world. Her parents (an uncertainty if they really are), her fellow students, one questionable teacher, and a youn

    Over the river and through the woods.....

    And through the woods and back again and again.

    History of Wolves is told through the perspective of fourteen year old Linda whose day-by-day trek through those woods reveals a very somber spirit. Her home is in an abandoned commune along the lake in northern Minnesota. We meet a dejected young girl who tries to make a connection with her outer world. Her parents (an uncertainty if they really are), her fellow students, one questionable teacher, and a young couple that she provides child care for are the cogs turning in this wheel for Linda.

    Because of her background and living conditions, Linda doesn't quite react well to social cues. She appears to have been on her own much of the time from an early age. Her interactions with others have been limited by choice and by situation. She is met with name calling and indifference at school except for the new teacher who encourages her in a special project. Linda follows Lily, the school beauty, and wishes to walk the steps of her life.

    But it is her deep love for nature and her surroundings that allows her to relate so readily with Paul, the young boy that she babysits. Together, they participate in games and daily walks through those woods. When a serious situation develops with Paul, Linda trembles with hesitation and, consequently, is left with inertia. It will haunt her and stunt her spiritual mindset from that day forward.

    History of Wolves is beautifully written by Emily Fridlund. However, it suffers from repetitive venturing into the same weeds along this shore and in finite detail. The storyline, unfortunately, is bogged down by far too many unnecessary layers. And these layers go off in many a direction. Yes, I get it. This story is seen through the eyes of young Linda and what teenager doesn't go off into a tangent. However, the weight of the story and its subject matter is not served by such a technique.

    I am impressed with the writing of Emily Fridlund. I look forward to her next offering. Perhaps you will experience something completely different with this one than I did. The writing is worth the price of admission.

  • Hannah Greendale

    to watch a video review of this book on my channel,

    .

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