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History of Wolves
     

History of Wolves

2.7 3
by Emily Fridlund
 

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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

Overview


“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.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Megan Hustad
An artful story of sexual awakening and identity formation…[Fridlund] is masterly when she lets…scraped-down prose push a series of elemental questions to the fore: Do intentions matter? What price will you pay to feel wanted? How does it feel to be both guilty and exonerated? The result is a novel of ideas that reads like smart pulp, a page-turner of craft and calibration.
Publishers Weekly
★ 10/03/2016
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. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

* #1 Indie Next Pick

* A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection

* One of USA Today’s Notable Books

* An Amazon Best Book of the Month

“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.” —New York Times Book Review

“Electrifying . . . History of Wolves isn’t a typical thriller any more than it’s a typical coming-of-age novel; Fridlund does a remarkable job transcending genres without sacrificing the suspense that builds steadily in the book . . . [it] is as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it’s set, and with her first book, Fridlund has already proven herself to be a singular talent.” —NPR

“A compelling portrait of a troubled adolescent trying to find her way in a new and frightening world.” —People magazine, one of Five Best New Books

“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.” —New York magazine’s Vulture

“My, what big fictional teeth Emily Fridlund has.” —Vanity Fair

“[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.” —Boston Globe

“Profound and disturbing . . . a tragedy of Shakespearean scope.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Intricate, beautifully written . . . The book smolders with moral tension, enriched by Fridlund’s subtle eloquence.” —National Book Review, one of Five Hot Books

“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.” —Amazon Book Review

“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.” —National Post

“Fridlund’s writing is fluid and at times arresting . . . This is a smart, tense and very sad novel, lovely to read but also heartwrenching.” —Bookreporter

“Fierce. Mesmerizing. Dazzling . . . [A] magnificent debut novel.” —Bustle

“Beautifully written and intense.” —Virginia Pilot

History of Wolves is so observant, so compassionate, so fresh that it can hold its own among the best of more established writers.” —Shelf Awareness

“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.” —Bookish

“[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.” —Publishers Weekly (starred boxed review)

“The writing is beautiful . . . a triumph of tone and attitude. Lovers of character-driven literary fiction will embrace this.” —Booklist (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.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[Fridlund is] a fine writer.” —Library Journal

“‘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 is usually left for dead in a story. What is literary authority, after all, but the ability to regularly, without apparent effort, make the most of every sentence, build feeling in every line and do it in such a way that is tough, tight, funny, and often brilliantly disruptive?” —Ben Marcus

“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! I’m so excited for readers to encounter the talent and roiling intelligence of Emily Fridlund.” —Aimee Bender

“As exquisite a first novel as I’ve ever encountered. Poetic, complex, and utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful.” —T. C. Boyle

“So compelling, so filled with tension that I could not stop reading. A first novel this good gives me such incredible faith in the literary world that this young talent will bring us readers more and more of this exquisite prose and choice of words. She gets this close with sexual tension and then moves away in a way that allows you to let your breath out. And Paul, the innocent in this whole mess, is a victim but are the others as well? I love this so much!” —Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books

“A punch to the heart lies at the center of History of Wolves—a punch readers may not see coming until some critical point when they look up from the page and realize what Fridlund has been doing to them all along: setting them up to knock them down. Hard. In this tremendous debut, she writes with unbelievable craft and depth of feeling about girlhood, sexual awakening, guilt, belief, and above all, the shattering limits of faith. The result is a novel of huge power, one destined to be among the most talked-about of the season.” —Brandon Stout, Changing Hands Bookstore

Library Journal
11/01/2016
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
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-10-05
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802125873
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/03/2017
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
144
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet 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.

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History of Wolves 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous 3 days ago
Not worth it.
Anonymous 3 days ago
Anonymous 5 days ago
Just so weird. I don't know what the main objective of this book was, the underlying theme or anything. Depressing more than anything just a pitiful story where you just feel so much pity for the main character, the climax not a mountainous climax but more like a slow slope where you find out very early on what it's going to be then it gets drawn out and you learn every single useless detail involved. I kept reading it with the expectation it would get interesting and was just disappointed. I used my Christmas gift card on this book, I would not recommend wasting your money on it too