This book is haunting. And not because one of the main characters is a ghost- because the prose, story, the voices that it evokes are like a misty cloud surrounding the reader from start to finish. As soon as I turned the final page, I wanted to start over again because I flat out sped read the last half needing to know how it would all unfold. Now I’d like to reread it knowing the answers and just let the words envelop me.
Three words caught my attention initially: Chicago Historical Fiction. If you are a frequent reader, you’ll note that I am biased towards a Chicago setting and so I went into this excited about the fact that it spans World War 2 between 1941-1946. It’s clear that the author did extensive research to make it as accurate as possible.
Let’s begin at the beginning with the title. Every woman knows about the wolves hiding behind the doorway. They’re all different, and we all know we’ll face them. This story isn’t a hit you over the head feminism book, and I didn’t even understand the title until I was more than halfway through reading.
Our narrator is a ghost named Pearl, we eventually get her whole story, including meeting some of her ghost friends, and it unfolds in a slow, but not the frustratingly slow way. She tells us Frankie’s account of spending her teen years in an orphanage with her sister and brother. Frankie’s brother gets yanked out of the orphanage by their Dad after he remarries and thinks he needs the manpower to run his store.
Honestly, I didn’t feel anything but anger towards the father. He’s oblivious at best and abusive at worst. Her brother is kind, but they are mostly separated as he ends up going to war. That leaves Frankie and her sister Toni to navigate life in the orphanage and then later with their stepfamily.
I’m feeling all the emotions after reading this one. I do know its one of the few books that I would recommend to teens and adults equally.