My coworker recently told me that she’d just finished a book that she knew I would love, so of course I had to read it. It’s Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk.
Annabelle leads a fairly simple, uncomplicated life until Betsy comes to town. Betsy is rumored to be “incorrigible,” but Annabelle is willing to give her a chance until she becomes Betsy’s target. Betsy doesn’t appreciate that Annabelle’s family is relatively well off, and demands that Annabelle bring her things. When Annabelle resists, Betsy beats her. Betsy expands her terrorism to include Annabelle’s brothers and best friend, Ruth. But she saves her worst for a homeless veteran, Toby, who is friends with Annabelle. Toby’s seclusion and oddity make him an easy target for Betsy’s lies and manipulation, and things rapidly begin to escalate until Annabelle must step in and do things she never expected to have to do.
My colleague was right. I DID enjoy this book very much. It wasn’t a feel good book, necessarily, but it was very realistic and had valuable things to say about the way that we treat people who are different from us and about bullying. The book doesn’t offer easy answers, and (spoiler alert) Annabelle and Betsy do not become friends in the end. Tragic things happen, and difficult choices must be made. I think this would be excellent for a book discussion group, and I would put it in the hands of children experiencing bullying, who like strong female characters, or who like deeper literature (not that this is a difficult read—it’s not). It would also work for people who enjoy historical fiction, since it takes place during WWII, although the war doesn’t figure too much in the story.