History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is one of those books that stay with you for a while. It haunted me for a few days after I finished it. I think that is partly because the author has done such a great job of invoking a sense of claustrophobia to the narrative. It felt almost suffocating to me. It left me unsettled. The people, the setting, and the atmosphere – it all added up to a distant and remote feeling that I was ultimately left with.
The narrative of this novel moves around quite a bit, as does the story itself. There are several threads that twist around one another throughout the novel – one about a teacher, one about the family across the lake and one about the protagonists’ upbringing. One fault I found was that the threads didn’t come together as well as I’d hoped. They all felt very separated and siloed in some way. I wish they’d come together a bit more cohesively. Although not cohesive, the threads were each really well written and explore that thread exceedingly well. The weaving of time could be confusing at times but it’s worth it to keep pushing through. I think the author did a great job at exploring how the past can haunt a person so deeply.
I’m not telling you much about the storyline as I think many reviewers area giving away too much. I think this is a good one to go into with little knowledge of the plot. I do think this is a beautiful novel, particularly given that it’s a debut. I’m eager to see what Emily Fridlund has in store for us – she’s a great writer who has so much promise.