For a look at spiritual beliefs and the way a life looks lived by them, a story of grief and how a family works through it, a light mystery thrown in
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. Both tragic and heartwarming, this twisting novel draws you into Bean’s world as she struggles with grief, navigates high school dramas, and learns to open her heart in order to see the true nature of the people around her. Winter of the Wolf is about seeking the truth—no matter how painful—in order to see the full picture.
I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed the spiritual aspects of this book, like the many discussions of beliefs and life after death. I’m not particularly spiritual myself, but this was an accessible and interesting look into Inuit beliefs. Bean seems a bit wise beyond her years, but she does struggle. She feels lost too and is just doing her best.
The mystery aspect of the story was fairly light and mostly accessed in Bean’s efforts to understand and overcome her grief at her brother’s death. As she tries, she develops stronger relationships with her best friend as well as her family. Each person in the family had a moment to show more about who they are and how they were affected by Sam’s death. They in turn work to enhance Bean’s character and understanding. As an overall look at how grief affects people differently, this was very compassionately handled.
I certainly did not expect the resolution of the story, but it felt so simple has to be quite believable. And, as her authors note mentions, is believable because it does in fact happen — far more frequently than might be expected.
This book is more of a investigation into the self and a discussion of beliefs than it is a mystery or detective novel. The mystery is there as flavor and as a guide for Bean to learn more about herself and the world. Altogether this was a surprisingly optimistic and uplifting read for its basis of the aftermath of a possible suicide.
Thanks to Goodreads & Greenleaf Book Group for a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
A special note on the book cover
A book cover that quickly catches my eye and my breath is not uncommon. But a cover that lingers in my mind during the day and is a source of wonder for me — that is unusual. Unique, in fact.
This cover is enthralling because the gray shading lines are actually lines of text. I did a little research and found the source of it. The full work is by Eric Fremstad for the NY Wolf Conservation center, and the text details history, facts, and even some drawings of wolves. It is absolutely beautiful, and I just might order a customized creation of it here (which benefits the NYWC, as well!). The timelapse of the piece being painted is absolutely mezmerizing.