Review Blog

Sep 04 2019

Hear the wolves by Victoria Scott

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Scholastic, 2017. ISBN: 9781338043587.
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Themes: Alaska, Wolves, Survival, Bullying, Abuse. Sloan, partly deaf and still suffering the loss of her mother who left two years before, is left alone in her house by her father and older sister, when they trek to the neighbouring village for a meeting. Sloan finds several other people still in the village: Ms Wade who has injured herself and needs medical attention, Pilot and his abusive father, Nash, a young boy and their teacher, Mr Foster. Together they pack some supplies and head for the moored boat to go down river to the next town to get Mrs Wade to a doctor.
But the community has cleared the land, denuding the place of rabbits and hares the main source of food for the wolves, and Sloan's father, in building a fence has stopped the elk coming near the town. Wolves are now hungry, unable to keep themselves fed and so track the six people as they make their way towards the river. The trek should only take a day but is hampered by the injured woman and an alcoholic Nash trying to control the group, so the search for shelter becomes obvious as each night the cold and fear sets in.
This is a chilling read. A blizzard has blown in unexpectedly, the wolves are a constant threat in the background, the hatred between Pilot and his father is overwhelming and the ammunition is running out.
The book reminded me of many other stories set in the Alaskan wilderness, the Hatchet series of books (Paulsen) Call of the Wild (London) and The Great Death (Smelger), but in this one the wolves track and hunt their quarry, Ms Wade and Sloan all the while telling the reader of the behaviour of these animals, pushed to the brink by the destruction of their habitat.
Sloan has been afraid of being alone since her mother left and the extraordinary decision by her father to leave her to force her to survive is akin to a child being thrown into water to teach it to swim. But Nash's cruelty to his son is mind numbing. In this harsh landscape some people's humanity has deserted them and reading this book reminds us over again of the need for people to understand each other and work together to survive. And no where more so than in the Alaskan wilds.
Fran Knight

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