The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie.
I don’t mean the small fibs that children tell. I mean real lies fed by real fears—things I said and did that took me out of the life I’d always known and put me down hard into a new one….
The year I turned twelve, I learned that what I said and what I did mattered.”
So begins Wolf Hollow, masterfully written by Lauren Wolk and drawing the reader right in. It is 1943 and Annabelle and three generations of her family live on a farm in Pennsylvania. She walks to school in a one room school house, but as the story begins, we learn that a bully has demanded money from her on her way home. The bully, a new girl named Betty, has been “sent to the country because she was incorrigible.” Betty had stepped out from behind a tree in Wolf Hollow and stood in her path and threatened to beat her with a stick if she didn’t bring her something the next day. Wolf Hollow had been named because men used to dig pits there to catch wolves who were killing chickens and such. As Betty’s threats and escalate, she proves herself to be a “dark-hearted girl who came to our hills and changed everything.”
Instead of using the road to go from the hollow to the houses on the other side of Annabelle’s family’s farm, they often would walk across the fields. Lots of people did. But one person was different. Toby was a veteran of WWI with his scarred left hand and his long oilcloth coat, carrying three rifles on his back. Toby lived in an old smokehouse which was hidden among trees and bushes. annabelle met Toby when she was nine, outside taking photos. As she slowly realized he was standing there watching her she took one of him. He asked her if he could borrow it, and she gave it to him. Toby would in time cover the inside of the smokehouse with his photos of the sky, the woods and the orchards.
Betty continues her hateful deeds, not unnoticed by quiet Toby. When a rock is thrown and hits Annabelle’s friend in the eye, Betty accuses Toby. So when Betty goes missing, and Toby can’t be found, people begin to suspect him. Not Annabelle though.