Read History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund Online

History of Wolves

Fourteen-year-old Madeline 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, Madeline 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 Madeline as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong. And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Madeline 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 doesnt understand. Over the course of a few days, Madeline 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, Madeline confronts the life-and-death consequences of the things people doand fail to dofor the people they love...

Title : History of Wolves
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780802125873
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 pages
Url Type : Home » History » History of Wolves

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History of Wolves Reviews

  • Simon

    A book of interesting ideas and a dark little heart, yet also one that’s problematic in its execution. It either needs to be a shorter story just based around our odd (which I liked) narrator and a small boy she befriends and his parents. Or about our odd narrator and her small obsession with another student and their teacher. Together with odd snippets of her life post school (of which many didn’t make sense) this didn’t quite work. But it’s not awful.

  • Sue

    The initial tension level of this story was maintained at a consistently high level with writing that hints and pulls back, shifts gears between the narrator, Linda/Madeleine, her parents and their history, her school and town, and the new neighbors. There are feelings of menace, in thoughts, in nature, in people, but what is really going on? Our narrator, Linda/Madeleine gives us clues but no answers until late.

    I really liked the first two-thirds of the book, where the tension is maintained eve

  • PattyMacDotComma

    4★ - overall

    5★ for the writing and the main story.

    (Read and reviewed February 12, 2017)

    An intense debut from a talented writer. Madeline, who prefers ‘Linda’, is telling her story as an adult, with episodes from her childhood, her school years, her early adulthood and now. But it’s what happened to her at 15 that changes her life which is the excellent heart of the book. Her later years – with a boyfriend or tracking a classmate and former teacher – didn’t interest me. The teen Linda did.


    “The out-of-towners had a thing about calling everybody by name, preserving some ritualized belief in small-town hospitality. They called Mr. Korhonen, the Finnish grocer who wore a crisp white shirt every day of his life, Ed. they called Santa Anna [an older waitress] at the diner, Annie, Anne. Sweetheart.

    ‘If it isn’t Jim’s girl,’ they said to me, ‘all grown up’. . . complete strangers said this to me, people I’d met maybe twice or three times – years ago, when I was a little kid – back when my dad picked up summer work as a guide. As if they weren’t interchangeable to me, like geese, like birds with their reliably duplicate markings. I marvelled that I could seem so particular and durable to them. So distinct.”

    She wants to leave. The countless teens I’ve met mostly say there’s nothing to do 'here' (wherever 'here' is) and wish they were somewhere else where SOMETHING is HAPPENING. I figure teens arguing with parents and being discontent at home is nature’s way of getting them ready to move out and move on. Just a personal pet theory, and it may not be useful these days, since they can't afford to leave. But I digress again. :)

    Linda knows most kids don’t have to walk for miles through the snow in the dark to get home if they miss the school bus. If you’ve read or seen Fargo, you will be familiar with the weather. One day, the kids were let out of school early, due to the wind chill factor.

    “I made my way home from the bus stop at a rigid trot. I crunched along the snowpacked trail, felt the wind come off the lake in blasts, heard the pines groan and creak overhead. Halfway up the hill, my lungs started to feel raggedy. My face changed into something other than face, got rubbed out. When I finally got to the top of the hill, when I slowed down to brush the ice from my nose, I saw a puff of exhaust across our lake. I had to squint against all that white to make it out.”

    It turns out to be the car of a summer family, back for a winter stay. Parents with a little boy. Linda begins watching them with binoculars from the roof of her dad’s shed. Thus begins the main story.

    She makes friends and soon becomes little Paul’s babysitter. She’s intrigued by the fact that they are all 11 years apart in age: Paul is 4, she is 15, Patra is 26, Leo the dad is 37. And I noticed that she says she is writing this at 37, whether or not that has any significance. But she does like to connect the dots, literally and figuratively.

    She plays with and entertains Paul for hours, getting to know Patra, and eventually Leo. They are a most peculiar pair of people, and their behaviour is strained and tense around her, with overtones or undertones of hysteria. She loves Paul and Patra, but is wary of Leo, an obsessive fellow who is a mild-mannered bully. And she enjoys earning money. Patra welcomes Linda whole-heartedly – after all, there’s only 11 years between them – but Leo is a particularly weird duck. You’ll see.

    The book picks up more in the second half as we get an inkling of what’s going on with this family. And that’s interesting.

    But I didn’t care for the stories about classmate Lily and Mr Grierson, a teacher for whom she did a History of Wolves presentation, winning a prize for Originality. And I had no interest at all in her older life with the mechanic.

    Thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted, so quotes may have changed. ...more

  • Book Riot Community

    This book still haunts me. From the very beginning, you know that something bad is going to happen. The horrible event itself isn’t as shocking as what caused it. Or rather, the people who caused it. Linda, the novel’s teenage narrator, is trapped by circumstances beyond her control. When a family moves in across the lake, she finds an escape from her own miserable family life. Throughout the novel is a sense that something is not right, but you’re not sure what that is. There are no blameless c ...more

  • Jenna

    The moment I finished this book, I rushed back to the library to return it so that another of my fellow Denizens of the Eternal Waitlist could have a chance to read it ASAP. Northern Virginia Readers: You’re Welcome.

    As many others have described, this is not a perfect book; it ambitiously tackles a number of weighty themes and integrates various plotlines and time jumps within a relatively modest page count. So, I cannot protest too much other readers’ objections that the book occasionally meand

  • Cheri


    “Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt down, exhausted, and stayed. In the middle of December so much snow fell that the gym roof buckled, and school was cancelled for a week.”

    Emily Fridlund’s debut novel is a moving story of a young girl who lives on the land of a former commune-type community. Her parents are relics from years gone by, late to the hippie party. Living off the land, they live in a shack, really. She’s young, a teenager, her given name is Madeline, but s

  • Melissa

    WTF did I just read? Madeline/Linda made 2-3 sets of tracks in the snow and none of them ended up at the same destination. What did the Mr. Grierson/Lilly story have to do with the Patra/Leo/Paul story? The writing here was very good, but I think the point of this story ended up abandoned on a canoe in the middle of the lake. Who knows, maybe that was the point? Grrrr... The setting and characterization of Madeline/Linda meshed very well and conveyed a deep sense of loneliness. I'm sure there's ...more

  • Elaine

    The second hyped book of January of the new year, The History of Wolves touches on many random topics including family, pedophilia, loyalty, love and faith and yet none of these hard hitting themes fully resonated with me.

    The narrator is 37 year old Madeline who remembers a pivotal moment in her life when she was 14. Her memories meander and continually bounce from topic to topic, from time period to time period.

    She recalls a teacher being arrested on child pornography charges; the time she sp