In this haunting coming-of-age book, Lauren Wolk introduces us to the thoughtful and kind 12-year-old Annabelle who is growing up in rural western Pennsylvania in 1943. Wolk opens up her book with the words of the main character: "The year I turn ed twelve, I learned how to lie."
What follows is a story about love, friendship, and betrayal. We are introduced to a new student in Annabelle's class, Betty Glengarry, a child who is violent and cruel. We are also introduced to Toby, a veteran of the Great War, who suffers from an mysterious mental illness that renders him as simply strange to the small rural community. And finally, we are introduced to Annabelle's best friend, Ruth, a fragile child caught in the crossfire of violence and cruelty. When all three of these lives collide, Annabelle is faced with the biggest challenge of her young life.
It's easy to compare Annabelle to Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, and indeed many reviewers do. Yet, perhaps because the story takes place in a landscape that is more familiar to me than the deep South, I found young Annabelle to be more courageous, more realistic, and indeed, more human than many young heroines found in coming-of-age novels.
I have eagerly looked forward to Wolk's second book since I read her first novel, Those Who Favor Fire, a novel that takes place in a small town that rests on top of a burning underground coal fire. Wolf Hollow did not disappoint.
In many ways, I am more of a reader than a writer. This page will serve as a home for my informal reviews of what I've been reading.