Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should be receiving an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Cart

Moorefield House Publishing



History of Wolves Review

Posted on March 17, 2017 at 1:15 PM


History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund


Reviewed by Jacob Hammer

I had been thinking about reading this book for a while. When it came out recently, it lingered on my radar. I was reading several other books though, so I was not in a hurry to get another one on my plate. One day, glancing around, I saw that there was a used copy available and I snatched it up and moved it to the top of my reading list.


The first chapter feels almost like it tells you the whole story. The narrator, Linda, is a teenage girl living in a small town in Minnesota. One of her teachers falls ill and is replaced by a new teacher who comes from California, Mr. Grierson. He seems to be nice if a little out of place in the cold and trying too hard to be relateable. He picks out Linda to represent the school at a special History competition. Linda chooses to investigate the history of wolves. Later in the school year Mr. Grierson is forced to leave because of accusations at his previous school of inappropriate behavior with minors and faces charges for pictures that are found in his former California apartment accidentally by a drug sniffing dog. The narrative flashes back briefly to a moment of Linda’s mother performing an impromptu baptism with her, then abruptly, shifts past Linda as a teenager and forward to her adult life where she still wonders about what happened to him.


The jumps in time seem like they’d ruin the suspense of the novel, but instead they lead the reader to deeper curiosity as to how so many things could have been resolved and how the characters could have been through so much. The jumps in time force us as readers to experience all the parts of Linda and the other character’s lives simultaneously.


The very next chapter takes us right back to Linda in high school. She begins baby-sitting for a family that moves in across the lake from her parent’s house. No one else lives on the lake other than these two families. At first Linda just watches them from her side of the lake and wonders about their lives, but through an accidental encounter she begins working for Patra babysitting her only son of four, Paul. Patra’s husband, Leo, is an astrophysicist and is away in Hawaii researching most of the time that Linda is with Paul and Patra. At first things seem different, but fine with Patra and Paul to Linda. To the reader there is always a bit of uneasiness. Fridlund is able to foster that uneasiness through the time-line jumps that are less frequent than in the first chapter but more and more effective.


Eventually we learn through those jumps that some kind of tragedy happens related to Paul. The exact nature of it and the legal proceedings and personal conflicts that Linda becomes wrapped up in don’t get revealed until the final chapters of the book. The pleasure is in the unraveling of the threads that connect these lonely people. In this unraveling you engage more with the development of the characters and embrace a different kind of anticipation.


This was a heavy book. It weighed on me as I became more and more immersed in it and increasingly aware of the difficulties and tragedies faced by Linda and everyone in the book. Fridlund does an incredible job allowing the reader to feel at home at the lake that Linda lives on. The few other places that are travelled to throughout the novel feel incredibly foreign to the reader because they are so for Linda. As the book moved through the seasons I felt the coming cold of the

fall, the weight of the winter snows and the cold, the still cold promises of spring, and the choking humidity of the foreshortened summer. Tied to this sense of place is also Linda’s palpable sense of loneliness that permeates the book fueled by the use of first person narrative throughout. At times Linda reminded me of Mick Kelly from The Heart is a Lonely Hunter in her experience of loneliness and her demeanor. Because of how well Fridlund is able to connect the reader with these tools, we are able to experience the multiple different time-narratives in the piece like memories of our own instead of disorienting flash-forwards and flash-backs. This as well as Linda’s ability to continue through everything that happens while becoming stronger all the time is heartening to inhabit and is what makes the book so powerful.

Categories: None