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Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me Hardcover – May 13, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—Chandler's debut novel is a classic coming-of-age tale set in Montana shortly after wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. KJ Carson, 16, lives with her father, who runs a business as a guide for hunting and fishing parties. While on a hunting trip with him, the teen watches a wolf get torn to pieces by other wolves. Her father tells her not to forget it. He explains, "The minute that wolf backed down it was all over." KJ and the new kid in school, Virgil Whitman, team up to create a column for the school newspaper entitled, "Wolf Notes." He takes the pictures and she writes the articles. The column causes controversy in this small town where the wolves are hated by local ranching families. The more KJ learns about the animals, the more she is fascinated by their fearlessness. Relations with town members turn ugly when Virgil is shot at in the Christmas parade and soon after someone starts a fire at KJ's father's store. Should KJ back down? The author cleverly integrates facts about wolves and their return to Yellowstone through KJ's newspaper column. The plot moves swiftly to a suspenseful finish. Beautifully written and thought-provoking, this well-rounded novel will appeal to girls, some boys, and conservationists of all stripes.—Samantha Larsen Hastings, Riverton Library, UT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Considering the current trends in teen fiction, one might take a look at the title of this debut novel and mistake it for yet another werewolf saga. Sixteen-year-old KJ Carson lives in a small town outside Yellowstone National Park with her widowed father. A bit of a loner, KJ signs up for a journalism class at her high school, where she meets Virgil. Virgil's mom is a biologist who studies wolves and their packs, and with Virgil's help, KJ decides to write a column about the wolves that have been reintroduced to the park after near extinction. No one, especially KJ, is prepared for the political firestorm that erupts surrounding her column, as the wolf-reintroduction program is hotly debated between ecologists and the ranchers whose sheep and cattle are threatened daily by wolves. Suddenly, KJ and Virgil become targets of violence. There is a lot going on here—romance, politics, father-daughter issues—but it all takes a backseat to the wolves, and teens with a budding interest in conservation and ecology will be the best audience for this book. Grades 6-9. --Kimberly Garnick

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 610L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (May 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670011428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670011421
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,021,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kristen Chandler ( has held many ridiculously entertaining jobs, but has worked primarily as a college writing instructor. She is currently writing full time while chasing four children, four step-children, and two dogs.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By papps on July 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a 40-year old man who had never read YA books since middle school, I found "Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me" extremely refreshing. My only question is, "How does she do it?" Through a divine hookup I was introduced to Kristen Chandler's book. I got a copy for my pre-teen daughter, but figured I should read it first.

Wow! I was amazed at how intense the emotions were. So much of childhood life was relived in the pages of the book. Friends, fun, school, heartache, chores, and the struggles to find one's self were easy to connect with. As adults we have all lived it. Kristen has a gift for helping us remember what it was like - with all the ups, the downs, and the craziness that goes on in between.

I enjoyed the refreshing and clean approach to KJ's character and the sensitivity to finding a first love. The dialogue and the content put my mind at ease - I wasn't concerned about the content my pre-teen might read. Few authors are that gifted or astute.

For me the humor and sincerity of the book stood out. Page after page I found myself laughing (and connecting) with the fun and breathably sarcastic humor. After reading the book my only regret is not having a signed copy from the author. Who knows, maybe she'll read this and get me one?

This book is a true "Must Read"! I am a book reader who takes months to finish a book. I devoured Wolves, Boys and Other Things in just two days.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jane Austen on May 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Listed as "Young Adult Fiction," this book has enough humor to grab and hold onto any age reader. Kristen Chandler presents a welcome unfolding of girl-meets-boy and father-daughter relationships, delightful doses of teenage angst and personality, and a sensitive treatment of an environmental conflict. She has obviously done her homework about wolves and their reintroduction to Yellowstone Park, and this provides an additional layer to the book. A blend of wit and wisdom carries you along through a well-crafted story line where West End and its inhabitants are real. I found myself anticipating the clever asides preceding each chapter. Kudos for this debut novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lea Kelley on June 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
KJ Carson lives in West End, Montana, population 948. Her father is a fishing guide and the owner of a local fly shop, and KJ spends all of her free time working with him. When a new student, Virgil Whitman, joins her newspaper class, KJ agrees to write a column about the local wolf population that his mother is studying. But the wolves in Yellowstone are still a sensitive topic with the local population, and KJ and Virgil find themselves caught in a storm of controversy that endangers both their new relationship and their very lives.

I loved this book. KJ is independent and intelligent, yet she struggles in some of her classes and has to make new friends after her old ones reject her for getting pretty over the summer. The book takes place over an entire school year, so the story develops naturally. KJ makes new friends, grows closer to Virgil, and becomes more involved in her community and in the cause of the wolves in Yellowstone. It was also refreshing to read a book set in a rural area that doesn't involve magic or fantastical elements, and to read about teens with involved and imperfect parents. Teens will read it for the romance, and learn a little something about our natural world at the same time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tara Gonzalez on April 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It took me a while to collect my thoughts on this book. Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me was definitely not an action-packed book. It was slow. The storyline was slow and even the characters seemed a bit slow. But it was really good. It wasn't a typical YA book, that's for sure.

I would definitely say this book was more of a character study than having an actual plot, although there was a lot of focus on the wolves in Yellowstone Park which I found particularly interesting. I hadn't really realized how much drama there would be if wolves were reintroduced into a farming area, but after reading this book, I'm way more knowledgeable in that area.

KJ was an interesting protagonist who didn't speak very much. She was a bit simple and slow, but there was a lot of inner dialogue that I felt really helped to show her character. Because her interactions with people outside of her classmates and her dad were limited, they meant more and I appreciated every scene where she was talking to or interacting with someone else. We saw her grow throughout the book and I thought that was reflected wonderfully in her rowing skills.

The secondary characters were interesting as well, Virgil and her father especially. Virgil was perhaps the strangest love interest I've read about. Not strange in an odd way, but he was just...different. I didn't find myself attracted to his character, but I did want to know more about him.

Overall, despite it's slowness, Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me was a very interesting book and certainly original from any YA books I've read. I recommend picking up a copy if you're interested in contemporary fiction.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Demongeot on June 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
KJ Carson arrives at the surface of the puberty pool pretty much intact- but between her tense relationship with her father, the arrival of Virgil- the new kid and his hippie mother Eloise, and the town's hysteria over whether or not the wolves in Yellowstone park should be hunted- her small world in her small town are growing more and more complicated.
The characters in this book are wonderfully flawed and believable. KJ is not some over confident smart ass like we often see in YA lit. She has her own set of insecurities, including a constant fear of never succeeding at anything or living up to who her father wants her to be. Virgil isn't a ripped Abercrombie model come to sweep her off her feet. He's a `real' sixteen year old boy and a genuinely `good' character, which is rare.
I like how we observe KJ develop over time- how she grows a backbone and succeeds in creating change in a place where things seem like they're stuck in a time capsule. Chandler also does a good job of showing us both sides of the story so that there's no distinct `villain', but a situation that escalates and leaves everyone the victim in some way.
What immediately drew me to this book was its title and cover art.
Awesome, awesome title and flashy cover art.
However, everything you see when you pick up the book (even the back excerpt) plays on the popularity of paranormal stories about werewolves and vampires when it has absolutely nothing to do with either. It gives the impression that we're in for something suspenseful and dark when it's really a humorous mainstream middle grade novel.
The book is written entirely in present tense, which I found a bit disconcerting and many of the secondary characters could have done with more physical description.
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