Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Strong writing, captivating story, and the characters are uniformly three dimensional. The protagonist, Annabelle, is 99% goodness, but that didn’t bother me. She struggles to be good, which is what most of us do (although maybe not as successfully). Her nemesis, Betty, has no apparent redeeming qualities, but that didn’t bother me (much) either. There are real-life people (and I’m not naming names here, so you can fill in the blank with your choice) with no redeeming qualities. I’m not a reader who thinks all characters should be in shades of grey.

The fact that Annabelle’s voice often wanders into adult recollection and reasoning and perspective also didn’t bother me a lot. I simply considered that I was reading a story told from the narrative stance of an older individual, looking through the filter of intervening years. Still, I occasionally had to remind myself that she’s eleven, not fifteen or sixteen. All in all, the viewpoint and voice should serve a wide range of readers well. Annabelle, looking backward–and forward–from the threshold of adulthood, speaks to me, but she also speaks to the young reader. She doesn’t talk down to them.

Until I was most of the way (80%?) through the story, I was thinking five stars. But after consistently impressing me for that long, the narrative felt to me as if it lost some of its intensity and freshness and ability to surprise over the final chapters. Still, I very much enjoyed it, and I think young readers, especially those who enjoy twentieth-century historical fiction, will be thoroughly engaged.

(Review on Goodreads)

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