STARRED REVIEW
May 03, 2016

Standing up for what’s right

By Lauren Wolk

Things aren’t at all simple in Wolf Hollow, and that’s the great strength of Lauren Wolk’s first novel for middle school readers. Wolk has created a fascinating world in the mountains of Pennsylvania in 1943, where heroine Annabelle announces in the opening line, “The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie.”

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Things aren’t at all simple in Wolf Hollow, and that’s the great strength of Lauren Wolk’s first novel for middle school readers. Wolk has created a fascinating world in the mountains of Pennsylvania in 1943, where heroine Annabelle announces in the opening line, “The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie.”

Throughout this novel, Annabelle is learning how to see the world, especially after she wins a camera and a lifetime supply of film and processing. Before long, the camera is borrowed by Toby, a hobo-like World War I veteran who forever transforms Annabelle’s vision, and whose photographs play a pivotal role in the unfolding drama.

Annabelle is being tormented by a new classmate in the one-room schoolhouse she attends. Betty Glengarry, a “dark-hearted girl who came to our hills and changed everything,” not only threatens Annabelle and her younger brothers, but her bullying spirals so completely out of control that a girl named Ruth suffers a horrifying accident.

Betty points a finger of blame squarely at Toby, prompting a tragic cascade of events in which only Annabelle is left to expose the truth. As Annabelle soon realizes, “The truth was so tightly braided with secrets that I could not easily say anything without saying too much.”

Wolf Hollow is fascinating and fast-paced, driven by Wolk’s exquisite plotting and thoughtful, fine-tuned writing. Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, this isn't a book full of happy endings; instead, it gives young readers a ringside seat at real-life moral complexities. As Annabelle explains, “The year I turned twelve, I learned that what I said and what I did mattered.”

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Wolf Hollow

Wolf Hollow

By Lauren Wolk
Dutton
ISBN 9781101994825

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