Written by Lauren Wolk
Published May 3, 2016
I don't think that I've ever read a children's book that I've contemplated as much as I have with Wolf Hollow. Annabelle, the main character, gets wrapped up in the middle of a horrible situation, and I keep contemplating how I would have handled it if I were in her shoes.
Annabelle lives with her parents, brothers, and grandparents on a farm in small a town called Wolf Hollow, Pennsylvania during World War II. Life is fairly normal for her until a bully by the name of Betty moves in with her grandparents and starts to threaten Annabelle. A quiet and distraught former soldier named Toby, who roams the woods, sees what is going on and tries to stop Betty. This causes Betty to focus her malicious behaviors towards him, and she accuses Toby of some serious incidents that have occurred in the town.
Unfortunately, most members of the town believe her, and misjudge the situation and the parties involved in it. They view Toby as threatening and not mentally stable while Annabelle sees him and comes to understand him as a soldier whose experiences during war and life changed him, but is still a good person. The situation grows more dire as both Toby and Betty come up missing. Annabelle sees Toby for who he truly is, knows Betty's true self, and doesn't know how to morally approach the situation when she finds Toby before everyone else does. She wants to protect him, but can't prove that he is innocent.
The book is so beautifully written. I kept finding myself rereading certain passages just because of the word structure, flow, and comparisons made. Wolk was able to tie in themes of bullying, judging and misjudging others, compassion, and honesty. Annabelle fought for Toby as best as she could, but had to make some hard decisions along the way, and sometimes regretted the decisions she did make.
"If my life was to be just a single note in an endless symphony, how could I not sound it out for as long and as loudly as I could?"---AnnabelleI can almost guarantee this novel will receive a lot of recognition, and it will be well-deserved. I wish I could go into greater depth, but I can't without spoiling the book. Absolutely incredible and thought-provoking.
My Rating: 5 stars (I am planning on purchasing a copy, and I would recommend it to friends)
Perfect for: Ages 12-15 (Publishers recommend ages 9-12, but I would recommend it for youth a little older due to descriptions of war and the overall heaviness of the book. Annabelle also befriends Toby and spends time alone with him innocently. Regardless, I would want to reinforce with my children that it would not be an appropriate situation in real life.)