by Kristen Chandler
I met Kristen Chandler last October. She is a delightful person, and quite generous. When I asked her to sign a get well card for my friend who was very ill and couldn't come to the signing, she said, "Here, take this. I'm not in the hospital," and handed me a copy of her book for my friend. I had her personalize the copy for my friend, so I wouldn't be tempted to keep it (it's an illness).
My friend was very appreciative and ended up buying me my own copy over Christmas break, since she loved the book and thought I would enjoy it. I did enjoy it.
Sixteen year-old KJ Carson lives in a small town in Montana (the size of town where everyone knows everyone), right on the edge of Yellowstone. Her dad is a guide for outdoor excursions and KJ assists. The book begins with the new school year, and follows KJ through her adventures with a new boy in town, the school newspaper and the Wolf Reintroduction program at Yellowstone. The writing is matter-of-fact and carries the irony of KJ's voice. Very pleasant to read. The thing I think I'm most impressed with is how the town seems to pop out of the pages. I got a very strong sense of place. I felt I could walk the streets of West End (and freeze to death doing it!) and recognize places and people. During the course of the novel I became very angry at supporting characters. This is a sign of great writing! I laughed aloud at some parts, which is nice. There's also an environmental message, but Chandler delivers both sides nicely, so that the reader is left with as difficult a decision as the rest of the town. The novel is obviously well-researched and painstakingly crafted, without feeling so. I highly recommend Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me. A very enjoyable debut novel!