Eularee Smith
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Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf

Jodi Picoult

Emily Bestler Books

Washington Square Press  Simon And Schuster

$16  Paperback, available in Kindle 

A strange and compelling story to be sure, Lone Wolf tells the story of a family in crisis. Jodi Picoult delves deeply into the mind of a father who finds comfort in the company of wolves rather than his family. The abandoned wife decides to raise their two children on her own, as her driven husband continues to place his study of the lives and habits of wolves above everything else. He becomes so obsessed that he lives and literally eats with the wolves in his effort to become one of the pack.

As the children become adults their mother encourages them to connect with their father. The plot begins to careen when the son, upon prompting from his mother, decides to talk to his father about his sexual preference. The result is a bitter argument which drives the son not only out of the country but to cut off all contact with his family. As a result the daughter clings even tighter to her father as he seems to drift farther away emotionally from his children. A tragic car accident involving her and her father brings everyone together as life and death decisions need to be made for the comatose father. 

The circumstances of the family seemed odd at first and it was hard to relate to a father who choose wolves over his children. But as the story reveals the lessons learned by the children from their father's eccentric behavior and his fondness for the wolf pack, it becomes less about a distant father and more about what the siblings fear most about losing their father. The mother also plays a difficult role of helping her children to stay connected to their father while fighting her own frustration at being abandoned by him. 

The painful story of this family is somehow mirrored in the lives of the wolves that the father cherishes and in the end, the wolves lonesome howl fills all their souls. It was a good story, well written, but a bit off putting for some readers I have encountered. The father's attempt to not just understand but to actually become a wolf is a strange affected insight into his own madness. It was hard to discern if he had lost his grip on reality or just chose to hide from the world using the wolves as his shelter. The climax of the story was the interaction between the siblings and how they resolved their opposing views of their father and make peace with the result of his and their choices.

Picoult weaves a good story and from beginning to end, slipping back and forth from wolf talk to the storyline made for interesting reading. This book was part of a book club series, otherwise I am not sure I would have picked it up. Glad I did and I recommend it as a good summer read.