When I held my second child, my first son, a thought struck me: When he grows up, there could be a war.
This innocent life in my arms and the horror of war were ideas that did not go together. I would hold two more infant sons, but the idea of war would not pass through my mind at those early moments of getting to know each other.
My oldest son never went to war. The other two, in varying capacities, did.
We seldom see ahead of time how things will work out. I’m glad I didn’t spend 20 plus years of each soldier son’s life wondering about their deployments. My assumptions would likely have been for naught.
A very good book leads us to a similar place. And Wolf Hollow is that very good book.
Placing the opening lines on the front cover was a masterful marketing touch by the publisher because the words draw us in. The proof is in the book’s status as a New York Times bestseller.
Here’s a portion of those first lines: “The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie. The year I turned twelve, I learned what I said and did mattered.”
Annabelle is the soon-to-be-twelve-year-old who lies to protect someone from a false accusation. She tells lies to produce truth. She also learns enough about war to fear someday becoming the mother of sons.
I waited for one character to change, but she didn’t. I thought another character would not change, but she did.
We have to be careful about our assumptions when we read fiction.
The society looked upon one character with regard. They shouldn’t have. They looked at another character with disdain. They should not have.
We have to be careful about our assumptions in real life too.
But the lesson about assumptions is not the only reason to read the book–even if you are usually not inclined to read in the young adult genre.
Author Lauren Wolk is a masterful character builder, and she exemplifies storytelling at its best. I stayed up later than I wanted to a couple of nights because I couldn’t put the book down.
Few books have engaged me that well. Others that come to mind include John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and Leif Enger’s Peace like a River.
Both books carried me to the very last word and left me with a sense of satisfaction. This book does the same.
All three books satisfy readers without sugar coating life or their imperfect characters.
Today we find ourselves in a world stamped with injustice. Annabelle inhabited such a world.
This book invites us into her world. The world of small community America during a big war, World War II. But the wounds of World War I still resonate.
Annabelle is a farm girl with two younger brothers who all live with their parents, grandparents, and a cranky aunt.
She meets bullies at school. She meets a strange man in the woods. She should fear one but not the other.
The book covers a matter of days. But by the end, Annabelle is a young woman. (She was a character I expected to change who did.)
Like us as we grow older, Annabelle learns things she wishes she could forget. She never will.
She will carry those things with her into her later years.
We will carry them with us too and be the better for it.