This was another book I read with my son for a school book report.
At first, I thought Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George couldn't get any slower or dull! But by the end of the book, I was so enamored of Julie that I didn't want her story to end.
Julie is a young Eskimo girl whose mother has passed away. She lives on the Alaskan tundra with her father, Kapugen. When she is thirteen years old, Julie is promised as the wife of a neighbor, in an arranged marriage. Although apprehensive about becoming a wife, the boy's mother tells her they will live as brother and sister. But when Daniel, her betrothed, forces her into a sexual situation, Julie takes to the tundra to live life on her own in the Alaskan wilderness, with only a pack of wolves to protect her and help her stay alive.
This story started out very slow. My son & I had a hard time with some of the names in the book, as they are Eskimo names that were hard to pronounce, and we read it aloud.
I was not crazy about the so-called "rape" scene, where Julie's husband Daniel forces himself upon her, but it was not a graphic description - just obvious as to what was happening. But this is recommended reading for my son's age group (he will be twelve in February). And there was one mention of Julie having her "periods", but again... these kids are in sixth grade and have already had health education regarding these things, so it wasn't that big of a deal - for me.
I think parents should take their own kids' maturity level and knowledge into consideration. (There has been some controversy over this passage, but I do think it's necessary for the reader to know the background as to why Julie is out there all alone. As I mentioned, parents should consider their own kids' understanding of this subject).
After a few chapters I got so wrapped up in Julie's story that I found myself saying, "let's just read one more chapter". Aside from the two scenes mentioned above, it was a beautiful, innocent story. This young girl was out on the frozen landscape all by herself trying to survive the elements with no food, water, or human companionship.
The whole book had me guessing what would happen not only with Julie, but with her wolf family as well. They took her in as one of their own, she named them all, and they became her family - it was hard not to wonder how it would all pan out. There was heartbreak and triumph, and the ending - though surprising - left me feeling very satisfied, and very glad indeed that this one was on the school reading list.