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Review of Wolf Hollow

wolk_wolf hollowstar2 Wolf Hollow
by Lauren Wolk
Intermediate, Middle School    Dutton    294 pp.
4/16    978-1-101-99482-5    $16.99    g

Two story lines wind around each other in this novel set in rural Pennsylvania in the 1940s. The narrator, twelve-year-old Annabelle, is one of the objects of vicious attacks by new girl Betty, who has inexplicably but relentlessly taken against her. In a supporting strand, a vagabond wanderer, Toby, a WWI vet suffering from what we would now identify as PTSD, is the victim of small-town prejudice as he is falsely accused of attacks that were in fact carried out by Betty. The plot proceeds with crime fiction logic and plausibility as Annabelle seeks out information, but then conceals what she knows, because who is going to believe a child’s testimony? The adults, too, keep their secrets and maintain their masks. As the crimes become more serious — and in one case, fatal — Annabelle’s role in protecting Toby becomes more and more difficult; the tension builds and never lets up. The storytelling here is dignified and the tone is memoir-ish, because Annabelle is remembering the story in the past. At points she seems a bit too wise and philosophical, but the portrait of Betty, an unredeemed sociopath, pulls no punches, and Toby is a nuanced and poignant character, an unlikely hero.

From the July/August 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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