Sally’s Rating: 2.5/5
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George is a slow-paced tale of survival in the wilds of Alaska, telling the story a young runaway girl who becomes adopted by wolves.
This children’s book lacked a strong narrative that could move the plot along at a quick pace, but made up for it with its thematic emphasis on nature and animals. I wish I could have enjoyed this book more, but it felt like such a chore to get through with its long paragraphs of description. Without a doubt, the best parts of the novel were the illustrations of Julie’s interaction with the wolf pack.
The setup of the novel is somewhat disorientating since it thrusts the reader immediately into the action with Julie lost in the Alaskan wilderness. It’s perplexing to not know exactly why she is there since only small tidbits of her past are doled out at a time, making it hard to care much about her struggles until later on in the book. It’s not until the middle section that her back story is revealed, which helps break up the monotonous overuse of description. Without getting much background about the character until later on, I found it hard to care about her situation.
The main issue I had with this book was the pacing. With its introspective nature, much of the novel follows Julie’s internal thoughts and observation of the wolves’ socialization and pack structure. While this part was interesting to read about, the overload of description makes this section a bit of the bore.
This novel deals with themes of humanity’s aggression against nature. There are several key passages at the end of the book that depict the idea of human civilization destroying the natural world – animals and all. This book excelled at showing Julie’s dismay and disillusionment of American society, and throughout the novel, Julie wavers between keeping true to her Eskimo roots or adapting to American civilization. There are no easy choices for her in the novel; sadly, her final decision ends up being a compromise. Don’t expect any happy endings or anything resembling happiness at all in this story of human survival.
Recommended for survival story enthusiasts and animal lovers.