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History of Wolves

3.4  ·  Rating details ·  15,775 Ratings  ·  2,368 Reviews
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 posses ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 3rd 2017 by Grove Atlantic
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Linda
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Ronna No, it is not actually about wolves. You aren't going to learn anything about the behavior of wolves from this book.

Community Reviews

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Adina
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: north-america, booker
It seems I am against the tide with this year Booker Longlist. Most of the The Mookse and the Gripes group members tend to place this novel as their least favorite. I, on the other hand, liked it and disliked highly appreciated novels such as Lincoln in The Bardo.

Now that we established that I have a twisted taste I will try to tell you why I enjoyed History of Wolves. Well, it wasn’t because of the Wolves as there is no physical presence of the animals in the pages of this novel. The MC is obs
...more
Cheri
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
!! NOW AVAILABLE !!

“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
...more
Elyse
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
"History of Wolves" is an exquisitely nuanced novel that tenderly and fiercely
examines one of the abiding truths of the human condition....'the quest for *self* never ceases'!
With little parent supervision, 14 year old Linda is left to grow up like a weed in Northern Minnesota. A typical afternoon for Linda, after - perhaps completing a Life Science exam in school would be to take off walking out of town - but first stop to buy licorice and cigarettes- smoke two in a row - stroll through milkw
...more
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.



An atmospheric coming-of-age with subtle tension and a plodding plot. Where Fridlund succeeds at transporting her audience to the chilled forest and snowy setting of History of Wolves, her wooden characters, whose actions lead to a limp reveal, leave something to be desired.
Karen
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up to 4 because of the writing.
15 year old Madeline(Linda) lives with her parents in the remains of an old commune, in the woods, in Northern Minnesota. Linda is by herself most of the time doing chores at home, poor household, and she seems socially inept with her classmates, etc
A family moves in across the lake, a mother, father,and young son which Linda ends up babysitting often. She comes to feel like a huge part of that family, and then a situation arises with the little boy tha
...more
Linda
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Over the river and through the woods.....

And through the woods and back again and again.

History of Wolves is told through the perspective of fourteen year old Linda whose day-by-day trek through those woods reveals a very somber spirit. Her home is in an abandoned commune along the lake in northern Minnesota. We meet a dejected young girl who tries to make a connection with her outer world. Her parents (an uncertainty if they really are), her fellow students, one questionable teacher, and a youn
...more
Esil
Dec 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3+ stars. I'm really wavering in my reaction to History of Wolves -- things I liked, and things I didn't like so much. In the end, I think I felt that it had a few too many promising story strands that weren't complete or didn't quite come together. Linda aka Madeleine grows up in an old commune in northern Minnesota. She lives with two adults who have stayed on the property who may or may not be her parents. Her story moves back and forth in time, focusing on a few specific story lines -- thing ...more
Angela M
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up.

This is a haunting story of a young woman recalling events and circumstances in her life when she was 14. Madeline/Maddie/Linda is raised in a commune and living in the deserted remains of it in a cabin in northern Minnesota . She lives with her parents (and she's not even sure they are her parents), but what is clear is that Linda is an outsider. She's called freak at school and doesn't seem to connect with anyone or anything except the nature around her and much later we learn
...more
Maxwell
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, kindle, man-booker
"Maybe if I'd been someone else I'd see it differently. But isn't that the crux of the problem? Wouldn't we all act differently if we were someone else?"

Coming of ages novels, especially ones not aimed at young adult readers, can be a tricky business. Too much time spent on the character's age and youthful struggles and you risk losing the reader and the plot; but not enough time focused on that incredibly challenging period of life when you're coming into your own and learning to see the worl
...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
...more
Hugh
This was my final book from the Man Booker shortlist. It was actually a lot more interesting than I had been led to expect, and just about deserved a place on the longlist, but in view of the strength of some of the books that were omitted from the shortlist, I can't really back the decision to include it there, though at least Fridlund is a promising young writer who will benefit more than the likes of Auster and Saunders.

For me this book was quite strong on atmosphere - I felt she described th
...more
Elaine
Jan 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya, hype, literary
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
...more
Dianne
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I have such mixed feelings about this book! The writing is very good, but at the same time the narration is very detached and meandering. I don't understand the ending at all.

I appreciate the craftsmanship but it did not resonate with me.
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.

Linda’
...more
Bianca
Despite the title, this is not a story about wolves.

I'm not completely sure what to make of this novel. It was different, mesmerising and slightly unsettling.

I seem to have read quite a few novels set in remote, desolate and very cold places. This time, it's the woods of Northern Minnesota.

The narrator of this novel is Linda, a lonely fourteen-year-old, who lives with her somewhat recluse and atypical parents in an ex-commune.

When she meets the owners of a newly built house near-by, she has a
...more
Jill
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book. Do yourself a favor and clear your schedule for 24 hours, find your favorite reading perch, and arrange for someone to walk the dogs…because once you start, you’re not coming up for air.

Madeline Furston is fascinated by the study of wolves and no wonder. At 14 years old, she is living in a failed commune with a father who is “kind to objects” and a mother who means well but hasn’t quite mastered her nurturing instincts. An outcast in her north Minnesota school with a keen sense o
...more
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
History of Wolves is one of those novels that I couldn't put down but, in the end, I have mixed feelings about.

Linda is a socially awkward 14 year old girl living in Minnesota with her family. Her parents, especially her mother, are somewhat strange and detached. When the Gardener family moves in across the lake, Linda begins babysitting for their four year old son,Paul, while Paul's mother, Patra, edits a research paper her husband, Leo, has written.

On the first page we learn that Paul has "g
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this because it was on the Man Booker Prize Long List. I loved the title, the cover (peek inside the dust jacket), but that's where the love stopped.

At first glance, it was hard to stop comparing this book to Marlena by Julie Buntin, a book I read this summer. Both have girls in mid-teens as protagonists, in the woods of a rural northern state that starts with an Mi-, trying to navigate difficult situations with parents that are less than present. Comparing the two, I found Marlena to be
...more
Sue
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: Tara Masih
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
...more
Simon
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Diane S ☔
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 review to follow.
Jenbebookish
I can't figure out how to rate this. I did NOT like this book. The writing is 3 stars, maybe even 4, there is definitely some snippets of really beautiful prose. Even more than snippets actually, the prose is consistently enjoyable, and judged only on the technical, she'd probably walk away with 4 stars, but judging on the overall experience, 2 stars all the way.

The way I felt about this book was the way one feels when they're listening to a story about some random, nondescript person who went
...more
Taryn Pierson
Jan 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-release
This is the second book I’ve read this year that portrays a family tragedy more as a series of snapshots than a continuous, easy-to-follow narrative. The first was Idaho, in which a woman marries a man whose life with his first wife imploded in the wake of a sudden accident in the woods. In History of Wolves, a teenage babysitter latches onto a neighbor family that on the outside seems good and wholesome, especially after the girl’s troubled childhood in a now-defunct cult group, but upon closer ...more
Dean
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Linda is 14 years old, and lives with his parents isolated in the backwoods of northern Minnesota surrounded by lakes.....
Then a young family with a four years old boy moves in a cabin next to the lake.
After Linda becomes their babysitter, she realizes soon that something is awfully wrong with this young family!!!!
Because she himself is only a child and is suffering from isolation, mockery and discrimination, she struggle with her contradictory feelings either to accommodate and be accepted, or
...more
Celia
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars!!

A coming of age story like none I have ever read before.

The location, northern Minnesota in winter, added to a chilling feeling.

The addition of a Christian Scientist family who did not believe that doctors are needed to cure illness (even of a 4 year old child) added to a chilling feeling.

A teacher who was a predator added to a chilling feeling.

I am discussing this book on BookBrowse and will be able to engage in many more thoughts about this book.

Warning: many readers have hated thi
...more
Melissa
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
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
Meghan Pinson
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
This is the kind of book that makes me want to fight anyone who doesn't love it the way I do. The kind that becomes a litmus test for future friends, like Louise Erdrich novels and The Bean Trees and Animal Dreams are. It's beautiful and quiet, strange, unflinching, unsettling, fierce. I knew an hour in that I'll read it again, and I finished it two days later, which I never do, even though reading novels is quite literally my job.

My advice: Skip the summaries and synopses. If you're drawn to t
...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
Karen
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
“My name was Madeline, but at school I was called Linda, or Commie, or Freak.”

This is an unconventional coming of age story of 15-year old loner Linda, daughter of aging, largely absent hippies who leave Linda alone to ‘do her own thing’. She becomes entwined with a family who moves in across the lake in their isolated wooded surroundings. As Linda’s relationship with them grows, it becomes disturbing and more uncomfortable as time goes by and I began to feel apprehensive about where the story w
...more
Bridget
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
WOW. This novel left me breathless, Fridlund's sentences literally knocking me in the gut. She has a masterful way of telling a story, one that is both visual and fierce. Her characters complex and real, the way she described some things creepy, chilling. I don't think I've read anything like this and I sincerely hope I will again! Stunning, unique, crisp. This will without a doubt be my favorite book of 2017.
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Emily Fridlund grew up in Minnesota and currently resides in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Her fiction has appeared in a variety of journals, including Boston Review, Five Chapters, New Orleans Review, New Delta Review, Chariton Review, The Portland Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly.

She holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. Fridlund's
...more
More about Emily Fridlund

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“Maybe if I’d been someone else I’d see it differently. But isn’t that the crux of the problem? Wouldn’t we all act differently if we were someone else?” 23 likes
“Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt, exhausted, and stayed.” 12 likes
More quotes…