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Summary

Shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize

Even a lone wolf wants to belong....

Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of Northern Minnesota. The other girls at school call Linda 'Freak' or 'Commie'. Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on.

So when the perfect family - mother, father and their little boy, Paul - move into the cabin across the lake, Linda insinuates her way into the family's orbit. She begins to babysit Paul and feels that she finally has a place to belong. But something isn't right. Drawn into secrets she doesn't understand, Linda must make a choice. But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand what the consequences will be?

©2017 Emily Fridlund (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group Limited

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An absorbing novel, with hidden depths.

At a very basic level this novel seems very simple, a tale of a young girl growing up in an unusual environment ( an ex-commune) who becomes attracted to the life of a seemingly ordinary family who live nearby. She becomes drawn in by that family and becomes implicated in the secrets that bind them. It all ends in tragedy and the girl has to examine her part in it.

But this novel is so much more than that straightforward narrative. It examines bullying in all its forms, by adults and children; secrets and lies; the nature of truth; coercion within relationships; religion and the choices that it forces upon vulnerable people; the rights of children; alleged paedophiles and their 'victims'.

It is very atmospheric and the descriptions of the remote area in which the story is set are very vivid. The only thing that bothered me was the voice of the narrator. Someone with a little more gravitas would have been more suitable, I felt. but overall, it didn't spoil the story.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Sharon
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 12-10-17

Good but Bloopers

I found this dark coming-of-age story extremely compelling and it has more emotional resonance for me than anything else on the Booker shortlist this year. Caitlin Thorburn read very well, although the voice was a little teenagy for a woman in her 30's as Madeline is when she narrates the story.

What annoyed me though were the bloopers, when a word was misread and became non-sensical in the context of the sentence - there were quite a few and they were majorly jarring and pulled me out of the story each time. How hard would it be to stop the recording and rerecord that section and get it right? This is a question for all publishers of audiobooks.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Woah.

Slow burner but worth the wait. DEFINITELY re-read the first 70 ish pages once you're done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Compelling and rather odd

History of Wolves is a coming of age story that will resonate with many people. Linda, mostly left to raise herself by hippy, laid back parents, lives in Northern Minnesota, on grounds that used to belong to a commune, of which her parents were members.

Linda is 14, melodramatic and poetic. She's somewhat obsessed with a classmate, Lily, who spread rumours that their teacher, Me Grierson, molested her though this is questionable. Linda's narrative often veers off into dark corners, and the way the story is told (going back and forth, from teenage Linda to older Linda, reminiscing) only serves to increase the feeling of unease as the reader continues through the story.

The girl also spends a lot of time babysitting Paul, a toddler who moved into a cabin across the lake with his mother, Patra. Paul's father, Leo, is often working away, but when he arrives, Linda's relationship with Petra becomes strained. Patra's youth becomes glaringly obvious when her older husband appears. As a reader you're aware that something terrible has happened, but author Emily Fridlund trickled the information into your mind, keeping you reading until the end. The story surrounds Linda feeling both as a victim and a wrongdoer.

It's not the best Man Booker long list read as at times the narrative is far too disjointed. But the author writes very well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding - such great scenes, so tense, so real

Don't know why this book hasn't garnered many rave reviews yet - it is a excellently-written novel, fantastically staged scenes with a believable and fascinating heroine. The tension is built up slowly and effectively. Narration is expertly done too. Not a dull moment in the whole book, it's wonderful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

If only something would have happened

This book suffers from revealing its hand too early, then failing to make the interim interesting or having enough to say about its biggest topic. Instead a listless narrator of little depth fails to see something, then fails to have the capacity to help us explore it in any useful depth. A shame.

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Well written and original

Interesting story that defies expectation. Central character has a unique voice. The prose style is direct, concise, and easy to listen to.

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Voice problems

The reader's voice was problematic - I had to borrow the book to find that Patcher was Patra. Patra and Paul were both fey creatures, but to match their voice with the whole book made it hard to follow. My own fault, I so much wanted to hear this I didn't download a sample.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A lot of really good themes, but...

This book started off so well, the initial build up to the main theme and story line was do promising, but it tailed off massively... very disappointing.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Fine narration, dull story

The story was drawn out and I found it rather tedious. Protagonist not very likeable and not interesting enough. Would have benefited from a good merciless editor who'd cut out half of the heroine's inner monologue/emotions.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mallika
  • 17-06-18

Terrible

The book shifts between the past and present and there is no real development. It's a twisted way of stating what bad things happened in the past and Linda never going past it. There is no resolution and the ending is pointless. I believe I wasted my time listening to this one. In the end I wanted the ending to justify my reading this book but I was frustrated.

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  • Rosaldo
  • 15-06-17

The worst piece of art i listened to

Just a collection of unimportant chats and thoughts that doesn't make any sense. It is very poor attempt to attract some listeners.