Published: July 2020 by Greenleaf Book Group Press
Category: Mystery, Spirituality, YA (with reservations) Book Review
A tragic mystery blending sleuthing and spirituality
An exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism, and Inuit culture, Winter of the Wolf follows Bean, an empathic and spiritually evolved fifteen-year-old, who is determined to unravel the mystery of her brother Sam’s death. Though all evidence points to a suicide, her heart and intuition compel her to dig deeper. With help from her friend Julie, they retrace Sam’s steps, delve into his Inuit beliefs, and reconnect with their spiritual beliefs to uncover clues beyond material understanding.
Winter of the Wolf is the story of a family’s grief and how they cope with tragedy. It’s far from all doom and gloom though. This coming of age story is about following instincts and beliefs, exploring new avenues to discover the truth, however painful. And, although the story centres on teens, there are serious adult themes and topics in the book that I think wouldn’t be suitable for younger teen readers.
We’re introduced to the Hanes family following the untimely death of seventeen year old Sam. Bean is fifteen, empathetic and with a strong leaning towards the spiritual. The only girl of four siblings, she and her brother Sam shared a very close bond. Events unfold mostly through Bean’s voice.
Bean is devastated by the loss of the brother she adored. Because of the circumstances, Sam’s death was ruled as a suicide. Bean didn’t believe Sam would commit such an act due to his character and beliefs, and was determined to prove it. He was passionate about nature, appreciated life in all its forms and believed and followed the Inuit culture as much as he was able. And although Sam wasn’t a living character in the book, his presence was felt strongly.
The Inuit are people who live with nature, not separate from it.They hunt to survive but never for sport. They have respect for all souls and don’t think of animals as being lower than us or soulless, and that was something Sam could relate to. from the time he was young, kids in our neighborhood called him “Indian boy” and “freak.” I felt terrible when he got picked on, but I wasn’t big enough or strong enough to stop it. Sam never seemed particularly bothered by their taunts. He was courageous and steadfast in his beliefs, even when it cost him popularity votes.