Rummanah Aasi
Description: Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Review: Wolf Hollow is my favorite children's book of 2016. Set against the backdrop of World War II, eleven-year-old Annabelle lives in a rural Pennsylvania community in 1943. While the war rages on outside of her town, her life is mostly peaceful until Betty Glengarry's arrival. Betty is cruel and threatening and thrives on inflicting pain. She is virtually a sociopath with zero empathy and has selected Annabelle to be her victim. At first, Annabelle is slightly comforted to know that Toby is watching out for her. Toby is a local vagabond, a World War I veteran of few words who has become something like a friend of Annabelle's family. We don't know much about Toby though there are discussions that he is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder from the war as indicated by carrying firearms around with him and is likely to be unstable.
  As Betty's violent malice grows, she successfully makes herself become the innocent victim while placing the blame on others particularly on a kind German man and Toby. One day Betty goes missing and Toby immediately becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. Gossip ranging from Toby aloofness to him possibly being a pedophile is spread among the community. Annabelle is sure of Toby's innocence and is determined to prove it. 
  The story of Wolf Hollow is powerful, complex, and relevant. As Annabelle grows, she loses her childish naïveté in a life-altering way. She begins to see the various spectrum of people in her community from those who are plainly cruel without any purpose, courageously kind people, and those who simply pass the gossip without seeking the truth and analyzing it. The witch hunt of tracking down Toby reminded me of The Crucible and his character is much like Boo Bradley in To Kill a Mockingbird. Thematically, this book raises some of the same issues as To Kill a Mockingbird, but with social status rather than racism as the basis for injustice. Despite the darker overtones in the book, the heart of this story is ultimately one of hope and empathy. There is plenty to discuss and talk about with this book and it would be an excellent choice for a book club pick for younger readers.  

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There are scenes of bullying with one incident being particularly violent. Recommended for Grades 5 and up.

If you like this book try: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Revolution by Deborah Wiles, 
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
5 Responses
  1. Unknown Says:

    Everyone in my Printz-watch group is raving about this book, hoping it will win a Newbery, or, as they call it, a Printzbery. Guess I'd better look around for it. It sounds wonderful

  2. This sounds like a book I need to read. Thanks for putting this on my radar, Rummanah.

  3. Oh this one sounds so good and something I would enjoy. I also think it is very poignant for things going on more intensely today. I really need to have my cousin check out this review!

  4. I'm so glad you liked this. I have it on hold at my library. I've heard great things from numerous people. And way to go on blogging so much lately. I need to get back to it. Things have been super busy here. We're moving to Wisconsin in 10 days, so I've been traveling and also running around to get ready for the move.

  5. I'll add this one to my list as well! Good issues and a great time period

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