Reviewed by Judith Favor
By Lauren Wolk. Dutton Children’s Books, 2016. 294 pages. $16.99/hardcover; $10.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
“The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie. I don’t mean the small fibs that children tell. I mean real lies fed by real fears—things I said and did that took me out of the life I’d always known and put me down hard into a new one.”
In Wolf Hollow, Lauren Wolk introduces a girl who becomes brave and good in the face of something terrible. In 1943, Annabelle lives among people who love her in the hills of rural Pennsylvania, a place she loves. She enjoys a steady life until a dark-hearted girl comes to her hills and changes everything. After Betty punches her and threatens greater hurts, Annabelle finds ways to protect herself and her little brothers by seeking inner guidance.
Toby, a scarred veteran of the First World War, lives in the woods nearby. He looks odd and rarely speaks, but Annabelle senses his kindness. She tries to protect Toby from the lying girl who manipulates people into blaming him for the cruelties she has inflicted. Tensions mount when Betty disappears, and Toby, suspected of kidnapping her, takes off. As men and dogs search for the missing girl and man, Annabelle searches her conscience and finds courage to speak the truth, a young voice calling for justice.
Wolk is an award-winning poet and author of the adult novel Those Who Favor Fire. In Wolf Hollow she writes an indelible account of a reflective child who stands strong on behalf of others. Although this compelling story of moral complexity and quiet heroism is marketed to third through seventh graders, I commend it to Friends of all ages, particularly librarians, First-day school teachers, parents, and grandparents.
To sum up the power of Wolf Hollow, I affirm the view of Julie Strauss-Gabel, vice president and publisher of Dutton Children’s Books: “The stories that lay bare the ugliness of our world are also the stories that stay with us. They inspire acts of everyday bravery and turn small voices big.”