What I love most about this magnificent novel is the realistic way Fridlund places her young protagonist Linda's loneliness at the center of the story. Even though the plot contains very dramatic elements, the story's merit and complexity stem from its unswerving focus on Linda's interpretation of events, which is shaped by her limited adolescent viewpoint and troubled childhood. The result is a starkly beautiful novel that rings true, and is all the more marvelous and troubling for doing so. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times Editors’ Choice
#1 Indie Next Pick
A Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
One of USA Today’s Notable Books
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
Teenage Linda lives with her parents in the 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 outsider at school, Linda is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is faced with child pornography charges, his arrest deeply affects Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong.
And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Linda finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. But with this new sense of belonging come expectations and secrets she doesn’t understand. Over the course of a summer, Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. As she struggles to find a way out of the sequestered world into which she was born, Linda confronts the life-and-death consequences of the things people do — and fail to do — for the people they love.
Winner of the McGinnis-Ritchie award for its first chapter, and A BEA Buzz Book and An ABA Indies Introduce Selection, Emily Fridlund’s agonizing and gorgeously written History of Wolves introduces a new writer of enormous range and talent.
“An atmospheric, near-gothic coming-of-age novel turns on the dance between predator and prey...Fridlund is an assured writer...The novel has a tinge of fairy tale, wavering on the blur between good and evil, thought and action. But the sharp consequences for its characters make it singe and sing — a literary tour de force.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“She [Linda] can teach Paul the names of the birds and the trees and show him beavers’ dams. It fills her with purpose, with confidence. Fridlund deploys this confidence masterfully, because the reader can watch in semi-horror as Linda gawks at the newcomers’ lack of understanding of her world, but totally misses warning signs because of her lack of understanding of theirs. In a way, they’re speaking past each other in this richly tense way that makes the other shoe dropping happen in slow, excruciating motion, full of dramatic irony that a teenage protagonist uniquely makes possible.” Ploughshares
“Electrifying...History of Wolves isn’t a typical thriller any more than it’s a typical coming-of-age novel; Fridlund does a remarkable job transcending genres without sacrificing the suspense that builds steadily in the book...[it] is as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set, and with her first book, Fridlund has already proven herself to be a singular talent.” NPR
“An artful story of sexual awakening and identity formation...a novel of ideas that reads like smart pulp, a page-turner of craft and calibration.” New York Times Book Review
Finalist for the Man Booker Award. Finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. Winner of the GLCA New Writers Award for Fiction.
One of theNew York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2017; An NPR and MPR Best Books of 2017; #1 Indie Next Pick; A New York Times Editors' Choice; A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection; One of USA Today's Notable Books; An Amazon Best Book of the Month; An ABA Indies Introduce Selection
"The chilly power of History of Wolves packs a wallop that's hard to shake off . . . an elegant, troubling debut." --Los Angeles Times
"Starkly affecting . . . one of the year's most lauded debuts." --Entertainment Weekly
Teenage Linda lives with her parents in the 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 outsider at school, Linda is drawn to the enigmatic Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is faced with child pornography charges, his arrest deeply affects Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong. And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Linda finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy. But with this new sense of belonging comes expectations and secrets she doesn't understand and, over the course of a summer, Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. One of the most daring literary debuts of the year and a national bestseller, History of Wolves is an agonizing and gorgeously written novel from an urgent, new voice in American fiction.
"Imagine one of those twisty 'Girl'-titled mysteries in the hands of a great stylist. Fridlund's debut is something like that, but better . . . an indelible story of fascination and dread." --New York magazine
"This captivating debut from a prodigious new talent injects taut suspense into a teenage girl's awakenings as she confronts a web of mysteries in the chilly woods of Minnesota. A lavishly written novel with more than a glimmer of dread." --O Magazine, one of 10 Titles to Pick Up Now
About the Author
Emily Fridlund grew up in Minnesota and currently resides in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Her fiction has appeared in a wide variety of journals. She holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and currently teaches at Cornell University. Fridlund's collection of stories, Catapult, was a finalist for the Noemi Book Award for Fiction and the Tartts First Fiction Award. It won the Mary McCarthy Prize and will be published by Sarabande in 2017. The opening chapter of History of Wolves was published in Southwest Review and won the 2013 McGinnis-Ritchie Award for Fiction.