Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George is one of the books I chose to review for banned books week. It is often challenged for violence and being unsuited to its intended age group. It is #32 on the ALA most challenged of the 1990s list.

Y’all, I thought the plot of Julie of the Wolves was fascinating. Julie (or Miyax, her Eskimo name) has run away. She is 13, and already married. Her husband has some sort of mental impairment and he attacks her, threatening rape (this is the violence loser book banners complain about). She takes off into the wilds of Alaska, hoping to make it to California to live with her pen pal. She ends up inserting herself into a pack of wolves in order to survive.

Julie of the Wolves

Julie of the Wolves is split into three parts. The first section has her meeting and getting to know the wolf pack, and details the things she does in her day to day life out on the tundra. I found this part a little slow. I much preferred the second bit, which is a flashback  to her childhood spent in seclusion with her father up to moving in with her husband and his family. Seeing her growing up and interacting with people was much more interesting to me.

The third part switches back to her present life with the wolves – but it doesn’t drag as much as the beginning did. It dealt more with the struggle Julie faces as she is caught between two worlds: being a traditional Eskimo vs. embracing a more modern worldview.

I really liked Julie’s character. She is very devoted to her heritage and the traditional Eskimo way she was brought up by her father. She is intelligent and an extremely quick thinker. She reacts well in crisis and is a very loyal friend. Her independence and determination make her a great heroine for younger readers to admire.

While it won’t be making my favorites list, I do think Julie of the Wolves is a memorable story – definitely great for middle grade readers. So y’all, screw the folks that try to ban it by recommending it to the younger crowd! (The ebook is only 99 cents for the time being.)

Check out Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George on Goodreads / Amazon

Other Reviews:
Inkweaver Review
Smart Bitches Trashy Books
Rhapsody in Books

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Heidi October 2, 2012, 5:28 pm

    Oh, I love that you’re giving this book some attention. I have a deep personal attachment to this book (it was with my in a bad car accident when I was 12–the book was destroyed and I was SO AFRAID to return it to the library, but of course they were extremely sweet about it), and it was everything about stories that I loved at that time of my life (I read every Native American survival story I could get my hands on). I’m tempted every so often to reread this one, but part of me doesn’t want to. I know I wouldn’t love it as much now as I did then.

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  • Biblibio October 4, 2012, 4:25 am

    Julie of the Wolves is one of those few books that are studied in school which I simply do not understand the objection to. I read it for school in 6th grade, and unlike the myriad of other survival stories we read that year (Hatchet, A Way of His Own, etc.), Julie of the Wolves actually managed to resonate with me and interest me all the way through. There’s more than just internal monologues in this one, and Julie’s behavior – though obviously very, very different from the average young reader – felt realistic. Her relationships with the wolves and her father were believable. I cannot fathom why anyone believes that the alleged violence in Julie of the Wolves (which is extremely understated, in my mind) remotely justifies taking this powerful (and certainly age-appropriate) book out of the curriculum…
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  • Ashley October 4, 2012, 12:40 pm

    **My comment it possibly spoilery…**

    This book made me so angry when I read it! I LOVED the book, I thought it was brilliant and perfect and Julie was SO strong and I LOVED her for it. But that stupid last page just… RUINED the book for me. Totally negated everything she had gone through and fought for and I just… Grr. 😉
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