cover image History of Wolves

History of Wolves

Emily Fridlund. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2587-3

In Fridlund’s stellar debut novel, 14-year-old Linda, an observant loner growing up in the Minnesota woods, becomes intrigued with the Gardners, the young family that moves in across the lake from her home. As she gets to know them, she realizes that something is amiss. Having been raised in a commune by unconventional parents, Linda is prone to provocative statements and challenging authority. She’s also fascinated by the scandal that occurs when Lily Holburn, a student at her school, accuses a teacher, Adam Grierson, of inappropriate behavior but then recants her testimony. At the same time, Linda forges a friendship with the comparatively worldly Patra Gardner and her endearing four-year-old, Paul, whom Linda babysits for a summer before his sudden and mysterious death. Matters take a curious turn once Patra’s husband, an older man named Leo, returns after months away at work. Fridlund expertly laces Linda’s possessive protectiveness for Patra with something darker, bordering on romantic jealousy. A sense of foreboding subtly permeates the story as Fridlund slowly reveals what happened to Paul. Her wordsmithing is fantastic, rife with vivid turns of phrase. Fridlund has elegantly crafted a striking protagonist whose dark leanings cap off the tragedy at the heart of this book, which is moving and disturbing, and which will stay with the reader. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc. (Jan.)