GUEST POST | She Named Me Wolf is Tenkara Smart’s debut novel. It is also the first in The Many Lives of Wolf series.
She Named Me Wolf is a book about survival, friendship, and the power of imagination. The story revolves around the abusive life of a little boy named Wolf. Wolf lives with his abusive father, mother, elder brother Orville, and his many ‘friends’. By the end of the book, he makes a very important decision which will change his life, for the better or worse, we don’t know yet.
The cover design is a stunning piece of work by George Saad. It’s one of those books that you’d pick up and fall in love with immediately. I am a huge fan of silhouettes, so this caught my eye quick.
My New Experiences
I usually don’t read books with paranormal mentions in them. This has to be the first time I read a book with that as one of the main themes.
This was also the first book that I’ve read that had such small chapters. I’m used to reading chapters that range from about 10-15 pages or even more. Most chapters in this book were only 4-6 pages long. I have no complaints here because the shortness of the chapters was something that excited me very much.
I couldn’t get my eyes off the book for the first 14-15 chapters. That’s how interesting and intriguing the story was in the beginning.
The main plot and purpose were quite unclear even till halfway through the book. That set me off but I forced myself to stick through and tried hard not to skip paragraphs.
As the book progressed to the end, I was so drawn into it like how the beginning had me drawn in. The climax left me wanting to desperately read the second instalment of the series.
One important aspect of the book is that it shows us Wolf’s life from when he was six years old and leaves us with him at fifteen. This however meant quick shifts of age between chapters. In some chapters, the difference in this age was beautifully and subtly mentioned. Towards the end, we run through about four years of his life within half a page, and I have no complaints there. I love how cleverly the author runs through these four years and that itself is worth a read. It was not something I expected.
I’m left with mixed feelings about the dialogues between the characters of the book. The dialogue at some places felt very unreal while in others, they were so bluntly realistic. The conversations carried by the animals and birds felt very real, while the ones carried by the humans were quite boring here and there. Lots of optimism, life lessons, and humour shared.
Like mentioned above, there are quick shifts between the ages. It would’ve been lovely if there was more emphasis on how Wolf’s mannerisms and voice changes as he grows. I can’t see too much emphasis given on this aspect and it had me confused quite a lot.
However, the parts that had raw and authentic dialogue are the ones that are staying with me, so overall it was still good.
Throughout the book, Wolf is seen talking to birds and animals and having a friendly rapport with them. I love the thought that has been put behind this. It’s beautiful how the author has captured the innocence of a little boy talking to the birds and animals around him. It didn’t come across me at any point that this was his imagination. That’s how lively the descriptions and the dynamics between Wolf and the animals were. Worth a read for these sections.
I loved the sections that mentioned the abuse that young Wolf was going through mainly for two reasons. Firstly, the abuse was brought to life and I could find myself wincing at most places. Second, the descriptions of the abuse weren’t too graphic. This is quite incredible since the intensity of the abuse is explained without too much description.
All characters in the book felt very real to me, including the ones that are imaginary to such an extent that I keep forgetting that they are imaginary. I love the characterisations of Wolf’s family members. The Japanese characters are quite memorable too.
Values and Message
The values taught and the messages passed on, on their own, make this book a must-read. This book beautifully captures the intensity of abuse, the power of one’s imagination, and human interactions. There are a lot of things that are subtly spoken about in this book that isn’t often spoken about loudly (such as abuse, paranormal experiences, imaginary friends etc). Despite how ‘imaginary friends’ sound childish, the extent of how important or helpful that might be to someone is marvellously captured by the author.
I think this book by itself is a piece of art. I love the ideals behind the book, the purpose, the craft established by the author and the creative and clever literary ways of her writing.
Despite the slow plot in the middle, the values and the messages that are being given, and the literary craft of the author make it an interesting read.
About The Guest Writer
Thank you to the lovely Suchita Senthil Kumar for writing this post. Suchita is an aspiring award winning writer, dancer and artist. Suchita’s writing style is so lovely and inspiring. If you get chance to read Suchita’s work please take a look. You will find short stories, poetry and real-life from the heart masterpieces.