Review: Gone Wolf by Amber McBride

Gone Wolf by Amber McBride cover shows a girl with curly hair and dark skin. A pair of light-skinned hands cover her eyes. The eyes of a wolf appear over her collar bones.

Gone Wolf
Amber McBride
Feiwel & Friends
Published October 3, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Gone Wolf

Award-winning author Amber McBride lays bare the fears of being young and Black in America, in this middle-grade novel that has been compared to the work of Jordan Peele and praised as ” brilliantly inventive storytelling” by Publishers Weekly.

In the future, a Black girl known only as Inmate Eleven is kept confined — to be used as a biological match for the president’s son, should he fall ill. She is called a Blue — the color of sadness. She lives in a small-small room with her dog, who is going wolf more often – he’s pacing and imagining he’s free. Inmate Eleven wants to go wolf too―she wants to know why she feels so Blue and what is beyond her small-small room.

In the present, Imogen lives outside of Washington DC. The pandemic has distanced her from everyone but her mother and her therapist. Imogen has intense phobias and nightmares of confinement. Her two older brothers used to help her, but now she’s on her own, until a college student helps her see the difference between being Blue and sad, and Black and empowered.

In this symphony of a novel, award-winning author Amber McBride lays bare the fears of being young and Black in America, and empowers readers to remember their voices and stories are important, especially when they feel the need to go wolf.

Gone Wolf on Goodreads

My Review

The first book I read by Amber McBride was ME: MOTH, which is a novel in verse. I loved the twisty storytelling. It’s one of those books where you reach a point where everything changes, and you look back at everything you’ve read with a new perspective. I loved that about the book.

GONE WOLF is prose rather than poetry. It also has some twisty storytelling, and I felt like there was the same kind of turning-point moment where I looked back at everything through a different lens. (This is hinted at in the cover copy, so I don’t think I’m spoiling anything.)

The book definitely delves into some tough topics in a pretty unflinching way. The juxtaposition of the Civil Rights Movement, slavery, and a futuristic setting was really thought-provoking. It was interesting to see familiar pieces of history alongside dystopian elements. Somehow, it made them resonate more sharply, maybe because it had that awful ring of the worst kinds of history repeating themselves.

I found it easy to get lost in the story and in trying to figure out how the two narratives connected. Future Imogen’s horror at her discoveries about the world she lives in and the ways she tries to break out of that world hit hard. I rooted for her from the beginning to end.

On the whole, I found this to be a truly captivating story. It’s got a young narrator– I think Imogen is twelve– but I would not call this middle grade. I think it’s actually a coming-of-age story.

Gone Wolf on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Imogen is Black.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Some brief strong violence, including violence against an animal.

Imogen witnesses a woman being beaten. She sees someone execute a dog. Imogen and a friend offer ice to people who’ve been attacked as part of a Civil Rights protest.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything but help support this blog. I received a free copy of GONE WOLF in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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