Friday, July 8, 2022

Book Review: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (1972)

Miyax, also known as Julie, who has been forced into a marriage she does not want, decides to run away into the Alaskan tundra. There she takes shelter with a family of wolves, while she tries to figure out how she might get to San Francisco where her pen pal lives. 

Julie of the Wolves is a book I actively avoided as a kid, and as with many books like that, over time, I invented my own mental version of what the story was about that was just totally off-base. I thought this was historical fiction, like a winter version of Island of the Blue Dolphins. While it does have the same focus on survival, this is a much more contemporary story, the crux of which is the clash between modern American values and the traditional values of Miyax's family. 

I liked the writing in this book very much, but I found the story very slow. I listened to the audiobook, and read along in the print book and that did help me stay focused, but it was hard to stick with the story. I absolutely appreciate the reasons this book was awarded a Newbery medal. The author's writing style is very distinctive and there are moments from the story that still come to mind months after reading it. It's not my cup of tea, and I think George's My Side of the Mountain is infinitely more readable and enjoyable than this book, but I have kids who I suspect will feel differently and will love Julie of the Wolves.

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