Genre: Fiction, Suspense
Publication Date for this Edition: 2016
“But I weren’t no quitter. No wolf nor bear just gives up when they get beat or hungry. You ever seen a bear jump off a cliff ’cause life handed him a few rough draws? No, you haven’t. The wild keeps going till it don’t have strength in its muscles and bones. The wild doesn’t give up; it’s forever, and so was I.” – Beth Lewis, The Wolf Road
Do you ever read a book and immediately start to “narrate” the story in the voice of someone you know, or someone famous? I can usually answer this question with a “no.” This book was different. For some reason, as soon as I got past the first sentence, I found a younger, and southern-accented, Dakota Fanning narrating the story. I asked myself why? Why is a narrator popping up for this book?
The answer: Beth Lewis’s use of the 1st person in this book is convincingly raw and believable.
Before I elaborate on why Dakota Fanning is narrating my reading, here is an accelerated summary of the book:
A girl, Elka, is raised in the woods by a man she calls “Trapper.” She has no relation to him whatsoever; he finds her lost in the woods when she is 7 years old and he takes her in as his own – teaching her how to hunt, set snares, shoot, and all the other outdoor living how-to’s. When Elka learns of his terrible secret, she scrams. The rest of the book is about Elka’s journey to find her real parents while also being stalked by Trapper.
Now, to continue about narration… In the story, Elka has a southern twang in her speech and a bit of sass to her attitude. Have you ever seen any of Dakota Fanning’s earlier movies? In many of them, like the chick flick Uptown Girls, she portrays a very sassy youngster who is not afraid to hold her ground (and who actually has a southern accent in some of the movies like The Secret Life of Bees). This is who Elka is in the book – a sassafras, stubborn to the bone, southern-twanged Dakota Fanning who will fight till the end to survive.
Read the book, if you haven’t already, and you will agree 100%.
Beth Lewis’ choice to write this book in first person proved to be highly effective. Not only did the character depiction of Elka make me think of Ms. Fanning, but her writing also made me feel like I was right there next to Elka during the entirety of her struggles. Lewis’ vivid writing immensely highlights the suspense of the story-line.
Read this book if you are interested in being a side-kick to a willful (and spirited) narrator of a suspenseful story that takes place in a woodsy environment. The overall readability of the book can be considered a “fast read” – the plot unravels smoothly and the thrill of “where is this story going” keeps the reader engaged (you can also set the pocket dictionary aside – no obscure words to look up).
Check out the video below. It has a few clips from Uptown Girls with Dakota Fanning. Her attitude here is spot on with Elka (minus the southern accent and wildness of the woods).