A deeply affecting, hard-to-put-down work that depicts a girl’s dark odyssey through obsession toward healing insight.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

COUNTING WOLVES

In this latest novel by a prolific author of YA fiction, a teenager’s life spirals out of control as she desperately attempts to evade the savage manifestation of her fear.

Not even high school is safe for Milly Malone, a 15-year-old who must engage in a never-ending battle to keep an evil wolf at bay using her only magic spell. Before she passes by or through a door, takes a bite of food, or speaks, she must count to 100 to stay “on safety’s slender path,” or the wolf of the Dark Wood will wreak havoc. But Milly’s spell is weakening, and when she trips before finishing a count, the Dark Wood engulfs her. This deeply observant and empathic tale isn’t spinning readers into a realm of the supernatural. Stewart (Keep in a Cold, Dark Place, 2017, etc), author of fiction and nonfiction for children, teens, and adults, instead weaves threads of unsettling fairy tales into something achingly real: the first-person narrative of a young girl’s crippling descent into obsessive thinking. After her collapse, Milly is followed by her wolf to a pediatric psychiatry ward. It prowls through her therapy sessions, daily routines, and interactions with the other memorably drawn, authentic, and ethnically and racially diverse teen patients. Milly views her life and those around her through a prism of fairy tales (a tie to her dead mother), and Stewart punctuates the gritty, funny, heart-wrenching narrative with a reshaping of more obscure and unsettling stories by the Brothers Grimm. The wolf’s hot breath and claws feel as real to readers as they do to Milly, but who, or what, is the wolf? The barrier to Milly’s recovery finally crumbles with her realization of the beast’s real-world identity, a disturbing insight bringing hope in its wake. The author doesn’t sugarcoat Milly’s hospital environment. Unpleasant encounters, challenges, and setbacks for both the young patients and staff ring true, as do the breakthroughs, humor, and evolving relationships. At its core, Stewart’s memorably inventive novel destigmatizes mental illness and sends a message that seeking help can make life better.

A deeply affecting, hard-to-put-down work that depicts a girl’s dark odyssey through obsession toward healing insight.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9937579-4-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: The Publishing House

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more