Where Wolves Don’t Die

Levine Querido. Jun. 2024. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781646143818.
Gr 8 Up–Ojibwe teen Ezra stands up to Matt, the school bully for harassing Nora, his crush, and injures himself. The next day, he and Nora learn Matt’s family perished in a house fire, and Matt, who survived, is blaming the fire on Ezra. Ezra's father Byron takes him up to “Red Gut,” their reservation in Canada, to stay with Grandpa Liam and Grandma Emma. He is told he will help Grandpa work the trapline—a dream come true for him to learn hunting and survival skills. Ezra is free from the tricky situation at school and begins to process his mom’s death, which strained his relationship with his dad, at their isolated trapping cabin. A long-buried family secret is revealed, and he learns how far Grandpa Liam will go to protect their family and friends. The narrative is well written with Ojibwe language scattered throughout. Grandpa Liam constantly educates Ezra on their history and culture, which sometimes sounds like a textbook. Ezra’s struggles with a crush, loss of a parent, and a bully will resonate with readers. Parts of the ending are predictable, but there is a twist. Stylistic sketches of a wolf begin each chapter, since Ezra’s family is wolf clan, and a bear sketch starts each section. Ojibwe translations are included, along with an author’s note.
VERDICT A great first purchase for all libraries, with a unique hero’s journey for Ezra as he begins to assume adult responsibilities.

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