‘Every little girl wants to play with the wolf, wants to see if she can get the best of him.’
These are the knowing words of Francis Clemmons, recalled by his adoring daughter, Margy, as she remembers the panicky thrill of the wolf games she played with him, ‘until I got big enough and wouldn’t do it anymore …’ These days, Margy is wise, ‘At least I know a wolf when I see one.’
Hers is an ancient, world-weary voice for one so young, but life for Margy and her sister, Ruthann and their little brother Tommy has been full of hard knocks since the death of their mother. Cared for in precarious and peripatetic manner by their father, whose dangerous unpredictability, irresistible wit and frequent violence make him both hero and tormentor, they take turns narrating the drama of their everyday lives.
Joan Chase’s deeply engaging and richly expressive second novel fairly crackles with the static charge of childish sexuality. Vivid with the rough and tumble and friction of family life, where the rivalries are not only between siblings but between