Title: A Room Away from the Wolves
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Magical Realism
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I’ve long been a fan of Nova Ren Suma; she is one of my favorite authors. So, when it was announced that A Room Away from the Wolves was the July pick for one of the book clubs I go to, I was so happy. I’ve been wanting to read that book since it came out, but unfortunately had to take it back to the library before I could finish it. I finished this book last week, and I’ve been chewing on it ever since. Strange, dreamy, and confusing, A Room Away from the Wolves may be Suma’s best work yet. Usually, I like to write a review as soon as I’m finished, when my impressions are still fresh. But sometimes, a book will require some serious thought before I can even think about reviewing it. That was the case with A Room Away from the Wolves. I loved it, but there were a lot of loose ends, perhaps too many for my taste.
Bina Tremper has very little in life, but that’s all right, because she has her mother. From the beginning, all they’ve ever had is each other. But things change when her mother finds another man to stay with. Sent away from the home they share to make peace with her stepsisters, Bina leaves home and runs away to New York City. There, she finds the boarding house that her mother stayed in when she was pregnant with Bina. But Catherine House holds a host of secrets, some of them about Sabina herself. Things get even more complicated when she meets the mysterious, spontaneous Monet, who may be holding dangerous secrets herself. Will Bina discover the building’s hidden truths? Or lose herself entirely?
This book, in a single word, was complicated. I was the only one of us in my book club who had read Nova Ren Suma’s work, and so, I was used to her signature dreamy, strange style. Even so, I was thrown for a loop when the ending finally came. The pacing was good; I immediately fell into Bina’s strange world, where nothing is as it seems. To say that this book is a gothic, haunting ghost story is to do the story a disservice. It is a story of identity, every type of love, betrayal, and the secrets we hide even from ourselves. I also adored Bina, smarting from betrayal and left adrift after her mother sends her away. But something about her didn’t sit well with me; I got the feeling that she was a compulsive liar. And I didn’t trust Monet either, even as I cheered for them both. Haunting, gorgeous, detailed, I loved A Room Away from the Wolves, but I wish there had been more closure. Even knowing what was coming didn’t stop me from being confused. Despite the confusing prose, I really enjoyed this book; it might be Nova Ren Suma’s best work yet. The bottom line: Dreamy, haunting, and strange, I loved A Room Away from the Wolves! Next on deck: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows!