Review Blog

Jan 22 2012

Wolves, boys and other things that might kill me by Kristen Chandler

cover image

Speak, 2011. ISBN 9780142418833.
(Age 13+) Recommended. K. J. lives near the Yellowstone National Park where her father is a fishing and wildlife guide. She is a loner who spends her time helping him out in his shop and in the wilderness. Over the summer she has turned into a more noticeable version of herself and when she meets Virgil, the new boy at school, things begin to change. While researching an article on the controversial wolves who live in the park, she starts to see her home in a new light.
There are people who love the wolves, like Virgil's mother, who is researching their behaviour, and people who hate them, like the ranchers who lose their cattle from their raids. Tension runs high in the small community and K.J. unwittingly adds to it with her newspaper article. Chandler adds a dash of mystery to her story with the advent of someone who is an arsonist and who peppers Virgil with shot during a parade.
K.J. is an engaging heroine. An orphan, she tries to live up to her father's high expectations of her and her ability in the wild. This father-daughter relationship is central to the book and K.J's love for and problems with her father add a dimension that is not often found in novels for teens. The budding romance between K.J. and Virgil is deftly dealt with, as are the relationships between other characters in the book.
A thought provoking novel that will appeal to anyone who is interested in conservation, this issue-based book is a very good read. Readers will gain solid information about the behaviour of wolves and the reasons for the controversy about their return to Yellowstone National Park in a well rounded, well written way.
Pat Pledger

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