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History of Wolves
Cover of History of Wolves
History of Wolves
A Novel
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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...
“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...
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Description-

  • “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.

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Emily Fridlund grew up in Minnesota and currently resides in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Her fiction has appeared in a variety of journals, including Boston Review, Zyzzyva, Five Chapters, New Orleans Review, Sou'wester, New Delta Review, Chariton Review, The Portland Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. She holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. Fridlund's collection of stories, Catapult, was a finalist for the Noemi Book Award for Fiction and the Tartts First Fiction Award. It won the Mary McCarthy Prize and will be published by Sarabande in 2017. The opening chapter of History of Wolves was published in Southwest Review and won the 2013 McGinnis-Ritchie Award for Fiction.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 3, 2016
    In Fridlund’s stellar debut novel, 14-year-old Linda, an observant loner growing up in the Minnesota woods, becomes intrigued with the Gardners, the young family that moves in across the lake from her home.
    As she gets to know them, she realizes that something is amiss. Having been raised in a commune by unconventional parents, Linda is prone to provocative statements and challenging authority. She’s also fascinated by the scandal that occurs when Lily Holburn, a student at her school, accuses a teacher, Adam Grierson, of inappropriate behavior but then recants her testimony. At the same time, Linda forges a friendship with the comparatively worldly Patra Gardner and her endearing four-year-old, Paul, whom Linda babysits for a summer before his sudden and mysterious death. Matters take a curious turn once Patra’s husband, an older man named Leo, returns after months away at work. Fridlund expertly laces Linda’s possessive protectiveness for Patra with something darker, bordering on romantic jealousy. A sense of foreboding subtly permeates the story as Fridlund slowly reveals what happened to Paul. Her wordsmithing is fantastic, rife with vivid turns of phrase. Fridlund has elegantly crafted a striking protagonist whose dark leanings cap off the tragedy at the heart of this book, which is moving and disturbing, and which will stay with the reader. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from October 15, 2016
    An atmospheric, near-gothic coming-of-age novel turns on the dance between predator and prey.Fridlund's debut won the McGinnis-Ritchie Award in 2013 for its first chapter. It's a 17-page stunner that begins with a child ghost and ends in a chorus of communal condemnation. The novel itself unfurls in far northern Minnesota, where a 14-year-old named Mattie Furston, who calls herself Linda, is living on a failed commune with her parents. She's hungry in flesh and spirit, a backwoods outcast among "hockey players in their yellowed caps...cheerleaders with their static-charged bangs." She chops wood and cleans fish with her father, who was "kind to objects. With people he was a little afraid." When a young woman moves with her 4-year-old son into a new cabin across the lake, the teenage Linda, who's looking back on these events as an adult, is hired to babysit. Fridlund is an assured writer: she knows how water tuts against a boat hull and how mosquitoes descend into any patch of shade. Her sense of cold freezes the reader: "Beneath a foot of ice, beneath my boots, the walleye drifted. They did not try to swim, or do anything that required effort. They hovered, waiting winter out with driftwood, barely beating their hearts." As dread coils around Linda, the novel gives up its secrets slowly. One concerns an eighth-grade teacher accused of owning child porn; another is tangled in the newcomer family's Christian Science. Fridlund circles these threads around each other in tightening, mesmerizing loops. The novel has a tinge of fairy tale, wavering on the blur between good and evil, thought and action. But the sharp consequences for its characters make it singe and sing--a literary tour de force. Four years after its initial prize, this slender work is worth the wait.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2017

    Winter falls hard in northern Minnesota. So 14-year-old Linda watches with interest when, months before the thaw, a young mother and her son return alone to their summer house across the lake. Linda is drawn into their lives when the mother, Patra, asks her to watch four-year-old Paul while Patra edits manuscripts. Linda is deeply affected by the intensity of Patra's care for Paul, so different from the nonchalance of her own mother. The teen is an untamed storyteller, and her past and present swing about as she interrupts one plot thread in pursuit of another, as if the emotional connections among events supersede chronology. A succession of days spent with Patra and Paul veer into a deluge of memories from Linda's childhood in a commune or recollections of her former history teacher, who may have molested a classmate. Fridlund's crystalline descriptions keep the narrative focused, but nearly everything else in the book, including Linda's true name, is subject to interpretation. The author foreshadows tragedy, which arrives with the unimaginable brutality of a Minnesotan blizzard. VERDICT Teens who appreciated the natural settings and poetic writing of Ron Rash's The World Made Straight and The Cove or the stylistic complexity of Louise Erdrich's The Round House will love this one. This strikingly original tale, so rooted in its natural setting, will captivate readers with a penchant for powerful, unorthodox prose.-Diane Colson, Librarian, City College, Gainesville, FL

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from October 15, 2016
    Fraught with foreboding, Fridlund's first novel is the story of 14-year-old Linda, who lives with her erstwhile cult-member parents in a cabin in the northern Minnesota woods. When new neighbors, the Gardners, move into their summer cottage across the lake, Linda becomes babysitter for their five-year-old son and an increasingly large presence in their livesand they in hers. In the meantime, her new history teacher, Mr. Grierson, has been found to possess child pornography and is fired, but not before he has an alleged affair with one of Linda's classmates, the beautiful Lily with whom Linda is fascinated. The novel moves backward and forward in time to good effect, showing us the enigmatic adult Linda will become. The isolated setting reinforces a theme of loneliness that pervades the book and lends it an often bleak, even desolate, air that reinforces the uncertain, nagging knowledge that something is wrong with the Gardners. The writing is beautiful throughout ( the sun broke over the treetops, turning every surface into a flat knife of light; a man is stubborn like a stain ) and is a triumph of tone and attitude. Lovers of character-driven literary fiction will embrace this one.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2016

    Winner of the McGinnis-Ritchie award for its first chapter, this BEA Buzz book features 14-year-old social outcast Linda, living with her post-commune parents in Minnesota's northern woods. Soon she realizes that the personal beliefs of the couple for whom she babysits are threatening the well-being of their child.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    November 1, 2016

    Teenager Linda lives near the Walleye Capital of the World, but no one would mistake her Minnesota town for Lake Wobegon. In this chilling story, Linda looks back on her troubled school years, when she was caught up in situations beyond her control or comprehension. The girl's parents are the last holdouts of a failed commune on a northern lake; the family lives in an isolated shack on the town's outskirts with four dogs chained up outside. When Linda takes a job babysitting a little boy named Paul, whose parents have moved in down the road, Paul becomes attached to her. Then something goes horribly wrong and his parents, too, are no help. Indeed, the wolves that Linda is so fascinated by might do a better job of parenting than the clueless adults in this novel. VERDICT Fridlund is a fine writer who excels at getting inside the head of an unhappy youth and revealing how neglect and isolation scar a child for life. Yet this first novel, as cold and bleak as a Minnesota winter, may be too dark for some readers. [See Prepub Alert, 7/25/16.]--Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • New York Times Book Review "An artful story of sexual awakening and identity formation . . . a novel of ideas that reads like smart pulp, a page-turner of craft and calibration."
  • People magazine, one of Five Best New Books "A compelling portrait of a troubled adolescent trying to find her way in a new and frightening world."
  • New York magazine's Vulture "Imagine one of those twisty 'Girl'-titled mysteries in the hands of a great stylist. Fridlund's debut is something like that, but better . . . an indelible story of fascination and dread."
  • Vanity Fair "My, what big fictional teeth Emily Fridlund has."
  • Boston Globe "[An] exquisitely observed, quietly affecting debut novel . . . an absorbing contemplation of guilt and regret, agency and its abdication, and what it means to survive the wilderness."
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune "Profound and disturbing . . . a tragedy of Shakespearean scope."
  • National Book Review, one of Five Hot Books "Intricate, beautifully written . . . The book smolders with moral tension, enriched by Fridlund's subtle eloquence."
  • Amazon Book Review "Exactly the kind of book you want to curl up with in the winter. It's propulsive, vividly written, laced with a razor's chill and filled with imagery that's impossible to forget. There is a constant sense of foreboding, of wondering when the truth will crash through the Minnesota ice . . . Fridlund masterfully ratchets up the tension, exploding this story of secrets and girlhood with crisp, cutting prose that will leave you shocked and in awe. A remarkable novel, that just so happens to be a debut, by a fiercely talented writer."
  • National Post "With her debut novel History of Wolves, Fridlund might well find herself literary fiction's newest golden girl . . . Its otherworldly winter escapism is just right for midseason stir crazy, and a dose of crime drama in the book's second half grounds enough for wider readability, with Fridlund's observation on childhood, religion and family reaching a climax in the final chapters . . . Supple fiction formed in able hands, History of Wolves delivers Emily Fridlund to the doorstep of literature's beau monde."
  • Bookreporter "Fridlund's writing is fluid and at times arresting . . . This is a smart, tense and very sad novel, lovely to read but also heartwrenching."
  • Bustle "Fierce. Mesmerizing. Dazzling . . . [A] magnificent debut novel."
  • Virginia Pilot "Beautifully written and intense."
  • Shelf Awareness "History of Wolves is so observant, so compassionate, so fresh that it can hold its own among the best of more established writers."
  • Bookish "This book walks a fine line between fiction and thriller--readers are sure to feel a pit deepening in their stomachs as they turn its pages. Rural Minnesota winters will take on a profound darkness in this gripping tale."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred boxed review) "[A] stellar debut . . . A sense of foreboding subtly permeates the story . . . [the] wordsmithing is fantastic, rife with vivid turns of phrase. Fridlund has elegantly crafted a striking protagonist whose dark leanings cap off the tragedy at the heart of this book, which is moving and disturbing, and which will stay with the reader."
  • Booklist (starred review) "The writing is beautiful . . . a triumph of tone and attitude. Lovers of character-driven literary fiction will embrace this."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "An atmospheric, near-gothic coming-of-age novel turns on the dance between predator and prey . . . Fridlund is an assured writer . . . The novel has a tinge of fairy tale, wavering on the blur between good and evil, thought and action. But the sharp consequences for its characters make it singe and sing--a literary tour de force."
  • Library Journal "[Fridlund is] a fine writer."
  • Ben Marcus "'Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt down, exhausted, and stayed.' So much is accomplished here, not least a kind of trust that this writer will make everything count, including the kind of data that...

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