There’s something about reading a beautifully-crafted and lyrical children’s book that instantly reminds you of the classics like Charlotte’s Web, Tuck Everlasting, Peter Pan, and James and the Giant Peach. Lauren Wolk’s Wolf Hollow will become a contemporary classic if I have any say.
Annabelle has tried to befriend Betty, a new girl living with her grandparents in their Pennsylvania town, but it’s difficult. Betty wants Annabelle to bring her things or she’ll beat her. And Betty does in addition to terrorizing a friend of Annabelle’s and a younger brother. But the absolute worst occurs when Betty begins blaming an innocent military veteran who lives on the outskirts of town. And mild hysteria comparative to a witch hunt ensues. Yet Annabelle knows the truth and is able to spend time with Toby, the veteran and neighbor, hearing stories about his life so moving that Annabelle’s confession to readers is that “I held very still and waited, trying not to hear it all, hoping, even at just eleven, almost twelve, that I would never have sons of my own.”
Tragedy is at the very root of the book in powerful scenes that transcend readership and touch on society’s reactions to marginalized individuals, but also what the power of kindness can do to overcome these baseless conclusions.
It should be on everyone’s reading list from children that is the intended audience to adults since they can connect instantly with Annabelle’s upbringing and Toby’s post traumatic stress. Yet one of the best elements is its resolution: messy, aggressive, powerful, and for most readers unsatisfactory in that while there is some hope, a lot was lost in the process. This ending is my kind of ending.