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STRIPES OF THE SIDESTEP WOLF by Sonya Hartnett

STRIPES OF THE SIDESTEP WOLF

By Sonya Hartnett

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-7636-2644-9
Publisher: Candlewick

Satchel O’Rye, 23 and going nowhere fast, lives with his parents in a dying Australian town. His father suffers from a mental illness that has convinced him that “God will provide” and has consequently sworn off all paid work; his mother, a nurse, has returned to work to provide for the family, but her job—crushing pills for geriatric patients—has reduced her hands to cracked, swollen shreds. Into this bleak landscape drifts a strange creature, doglike but not a dog—possibly a Tasmanian wolf, thought to have become extinct in 1936 and, if Satchel could capture it, might end his community’s inevitable decline. Hartnett has crafted a characteristically minimalist narrative that sets up a contrapuntal relationship between Satchel, whose determination not to abandon his mother has caused him to reject opportunity after opportunity, and the animal, whose very survival rests on the fact that the world has forgotten it. It’s a quiet, complex work, whose themes of sacrifice and redemption work their way throughout; if some characters are little more than symbols, readers will nevertheless find it a memorable, haunting experience. (Fiction. YA)