Winter Of The Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler – Review.

About The Book

A tragic mystery blending detective work & spirituality. An exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism, and Inuit culture, Winter of the Wolf follows Bean as she searches for the truth of her brother Sam’s “”suicide.”” Unconvinced her loving brother could commit such an act without warning, Bean pulls herself from her grief to become a part-time detective and shaman. With assistance from her friend Julie, Bean retraces Sam’s steps and delves into his Inuit beliefs, seeking clues from beyond material understanding. Both tragic and heart-warming, this twisting young adult novel will not only have readers diving deep into the customs of native peoples, but also gaining a greater understanding of the effects of suicide and loss. Bean is an empathetic and driven fifteen-year-old who readers will quickly gravitate toward and follow as she struggles with family tragedy, high school drama, and understanding the people around her. Through Bean’s eyes, Winter of the Wolf urges readers to seek out the truth-no matter how painful-in order to see the full picture. An environmentalist and award-winning author, Martha Handler has brought together two important pieces of her life-the death of her best friend’s son and her work as president of the Wolf Conservation Centre-to craft an empathetic and powerful story with undeniable messages. Martha’s passionate debut novel will capture the hearts of a young audience.

My Review

With thanks to Michelle Fitzgerald for the copy received. I read a lot of books but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like Winter of the Wolf before. The narrator, Bean, is a teenager. The youngest in a family of four and the only girl. When the brother she is closest to, Sam, kills himself after a family disagreement she is understandably devastated but is also clinging to the idea that his death is connected to Inuit beliefs. Alongside her best friend Julie,she attempts to find the answers.

I have to admit that I nothing at all about Inuit customs but it didn’t matter. I was swept along by Bean and her family’s attempts at coping with their loss. The emotions are raw and honest. You could see how they troubled to communicate with each other, through grief, guilt and denial.

You would think that this would be a depressing read but it isn’t. Some of it is everyday teenage life. Boys, friends, families. There are parts that she has to cope with at school that are different, the feeling of being ignored because people don’t know what to say, the comments from others who say they know what she is going through because they have experienced similar. 

Alongside the learning to cope there is the description of the local community, the area and its wildlife. So different to life here and much of it sounds magical. I found that the part of the novel that concerns the Inuit customs was quite small but fascinating. Mixing human and animal blood was something I had never even thought about and it reminds the reader that there is a lot to learn about different cultures and beliefs.

A wonderful book that I would happily read again. 

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