Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Similarities to Mudbound abound in this novel (evil racists and even a repugnant aging parent), but I thought this was a much better read. Olivia is raising her grandson Will'm in Aurora, Kentucky, and housing her mother Ida, who spent some time in a mental institution and barely acknowledges Olivia as her daughter. The book is part love story, part mystery, and part family saga about 3 generations of women. Olivia is no saint and doesn't even know who is the biological father of her daughter Pauline. Pauline repeats some of her mother's mistakes and then leaves Will'm behind when she heads for Hollywood. Wolves turning up dead and missing an ear are indicative of the violence that simmers in Aurora, and Olivia suspects that someone is making a statement to get her attention. Her assumptions about the reason for her neighbors' animosity are inaccurate, however, and this is where the mystery comes in. My guess on the title is that it stems from an event at the beginning of the book. Olivia has stitched up a wounded wolf, who then escapes overnight by jumping through a window, only to meet a grim fate. Throughout the book Olivia is scraping together the shards of her life, trying to make sense of her heritage and her offspring. The wolves themselves are also a symbolic presence and perhaps represent innocent souls being hunted, tortured, and killed for no reason.

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