Intense, edgy, disturbing – just a few words that describe THE CHILDREN AND THE WOLVES by Adam Rapp. The reader is slapped in the face with the gritty story on the first page.
Bounce, an extremely intelligent and wealthy girl meets Wiggins and Orange in detention. Bounce immediately sees them for what they are – weaklings and declares herself boss. She is disrespectful to all adults and authority figures and left alone for weeks at a time to do what she wants.
The story is told in alternating points of view allowing the reader to see inside the minds of each of the characters. All three of these eighth graders have problems. Orange lives at home with his disabled father. His mother left without explanation and he doesn’t seem to care.
Wiggins lives alone with his mother, a nurse with a fixation on Craig Ferguson. His father was a Ranger in the war in Iraq. When he finally came home, he didn’t stay. He distrusts several things – including refrigerators.
When a local poet visits Bounce’s Honors English Class, he makes comments that angers her. She immediately develops a plan to deal with him and enlists the help of her two lackeys. The first stage of her plan involves kidnapping a little girl. Wiggins is the one in charge of keeping her fed and she stays in Orange’s basement because no one will find her there since Orange’s father can’t walk.
Wiggins calls her Frog and is the only one to develop any type of relationship with her. The only thing Frog has to do all day is play a video game called “The Children and the Wolves.” As Bounce’s plan progresses, changes, and intensifies, Frog gets better and better at the game.
After a particularly violent incident, Wiggins begins to have second thoughts about the path he is traveling with Bounce and Orange. Is he strong enough to break away from the abusive friendship? Will he be able to save Frog?
THE CHILDREN AND THE WOLVES is engrossing. It is a very short 151 pages and really pulls the reader in. The fact that Bounce, Orange, and Wiggins are 13-years-old is frightening. Bounce especially is scary and most likely a sociopath. She definitely has a lack of conscience and manipulates others. Orange just wants her attention and approval and poor Wiggins, I think, just wants somewhere to belong. This one will really stick with you.