History of Wolves

Emily Fridlund's novel follows a 14 year-old named Linda who is devastated when her beloved history teacher is arrested for a grievous offence.

Emily Fridlund

Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in the beautiful, austere woods of northern Minnesota, where their nearly abandoned commune stands as the last vestige of a lost counterculture world. Isolated at home and an outsider at school, Linda is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and the new history teacher, Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is charged with possessing child pornography, the implications of his arrest deeply affect Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong.

And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Linda finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. It seems that her life finally has purpose but with this new sense of belonging come expectations and secrets she doesn't understand. Over the course of a summer, Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. As she struggles to find a way out of the sequestered world into which she was born, Linda confronts the life-and-death consequences of the things people do — and fail to do — for the people they love. (From HarperCollins)

History of Wolves is on the longlist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize.

From the book

It's not that I never think about Paul. He comes to me occasionally before I'm fully awake, though I almost never remember what he said, or what I did or didn't do to him. In my mind, the kid just plops down into my lap. Boom. That's how I know it's him: there's no interest in me, no hestitation. We're sitting in the nature Center on a late afternoon like any other, and his body moves automatically toward mine — not out of love or respect, but simply because he hasn't yet learned the etiquette of minding where his body stops and anothe rbegins. He's four, he's got an owl puzzle to do, don't talk to him. I don't. Outside the window, an avalanche of poplar fluff floats by, silent and weightless as air. The sunlight shifts, the puzzle cleaves into an owl and comes apart again, I prod Paul to standing. Time to go. It's time. But in the second before we rise, before he whines out his protest and asks to stay a little longer, he leans back against my chest, yawning. And my throat cinches closed. Because it's strange, you know? It's marvelous, and sad too, how good it can feel to have your body taken for granted.


From History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund ©2017. Published by HarperCollins.