Can the wildness of wolves transform the heart of a girl who has suffered too many losses?
Twelve-year-old Nika and her younger brother Randall, recently orphaned, live in California, finally content with their-best-foster-mother-yet, Meg. When Meg’s health deteriorates, however, a well-meaning social worker locates their long-lost uncle Ian—a globe-trotting wildlife biologist now studying wolves in rural Minnesota—ostensibly for a “visit.” How will Nika incorporate yet another change of venue into her life? For starters, Nika nurtures a motherless wolf pup, fiercely advocates for caged wild animals and makes friends with a like-minded boy named Thomas. But when faced with stark moments of truth, both wild and domestic, will she make the right choices? Through close third-person narration, debut novelist Carlson-Voiles renders Nika’s emotional turmoil and moral dilemmas with gentle, compassionate strokes. Even the least wilderness-savvy readers will be drawn into the breathtaking landscapes, the human-to-animal relationships and the gradual evolution of Nika’s new family. While evoking the girl-wolf-hunter triad of Jean Craighead George’s 1973 Newbery Award–winning classic, Julie of the Wolves, the author brings enough of her own experiences with animals and troubled young people into the story that it feels like nonfiction.
A little gem of a book for all wild-hearted lovers of the natural world. (Fiction. 10-14)