Gone Wolf

Macmillan Young Listeners. Oct. 2023. 824p. $19.99. ISBN 9781250911117.
Gr 4-6–National Book Award finalist McBride’s middle grade debut is an impressive genre-bending puzzle that opens with lulling piano notes, perfectly accompanying sweetly voiced Blake through the introductory credits and epigraphs. Blake deftly maintains a striking innocence through most of McBride’s three intriguing sections. In “Blue,” Blake haunts as wide-eyed Inmate Eleven in 2111, allowed only her dog Ira for companionship while she’s been training her entire life to serve her assigned white Clone. In “Black,” Blake is muted, mourning, 12-year-old Imogen trying to heal from traumatic racist violence and devastating pandemic losses. In “Blue & Black,” McBride reveals her intertwined narrative brilliance, emphatically underscored by Blake’s chilling recitation near the book’s end of “and”s—denoted on the page as repeated &s (like twisted bodies) to represent the three million African lives lost along the Middle Passage.
VERDICT What seems to be dystopic terror is the reality of the Black experience; author and narrator embody the lifesaving validation of storytelling

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