Winter of the Wolf

Greenleaf. Jul. 2020. 264p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781626347182.
Gr 8 Up–Bean’s older brother Sam was her best friend. Then he’s gone, and Bean blames herself. After all, if she hadn’t begged him to sneak out to drive her to a friend’s house, they never would have hit the deer, totaling their dad’s precious vehicle, one they were never allowed to drive. But why would Sam kill himself later that night? Sam wasn’t Inuit, but was fascinated by Inuit culture, and Bean and her friend Julie set out to solve the mystery by recreating an Inuit ritual to contact the dead. Though the author includes back matter with resources about Inuit culture, their decision to depict characters’ appropriation of Native rituals to solve a mystery is disappointing. Meanwhile, the family wrestles with their mom’s depression and the daunting task of cleaning out Sam’s bedroom. A bit of mystery and a very light romance add interest to the story. As tame as the romance is, however, this book should be reserved for mature readers as ultimately the cause of death is discovered to be accidental auto-erotic asphyxiation.
VERDICT Problematic depictions of cultural appropriation mean that this touching portrait of grief cannot be strongly recommended for purchase.

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