Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road. The little boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the little boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the little boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the little boy’s secret and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s been four years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
"It smells like feelings in here."
Boy, does it ever! So many feels, people! While reading this book, my friends Todd, Renee and I chatted a bit about it. Nothing terribly specific, because we were all at different points in the book. Renee finished first and Todd asked her: "So, verdict? Awesome? Heartbreaking? Worth it? Wanna punch TJ in the dick? ;- )" ... My only thought was "all of the above..." Yep, I'm sticking with that. Because I couldn't put it down. Even when my heart was in shreds. Even when tears were streaming down my face. Because I knew that TJ would make it ok again (even if I do still kind of want to punch him in the dick for putting me through all that). But was it worth it? Yeah, definitely.
The story Wolfsong tells, spans more than a decade, and takes us from the time Ox Matheson is 12 on through his mid 20's. It was tragic and heartbreaking and so so hopeful. It's about love and choice and what it really means to have a family. It's about sacrifice. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one"(yeah, so I kind of channeled Spock, there, so sue me). But that quote just says so much of what this story told. I started reading and I just could not stop.
Told from Ox's POV, the story starts with his father leaving, and telling Ox, once again, that he's not smart and that he will never have anything good. Some people really shouldn't ever be parents. Ox's mother, though, is exactly what a parent should be. And Ox kind of goes through life being what is expected of him. Until one day, he meets Joe. And through Joe's family, Ox learns what it is to have a family and be part of something greater than himself.
"You gotta smell him and then tell me why it's all candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome."
Even at 10 years old, Joe Bennett was a force of nature. And he grabbed onto Ox with both hands and didn't let go. TJ Klune captured, perfectly, that childlike wonder and excitement. I couldn't help but be a little awed by Joe. And there's a connection that runs deep between him and Ox. A connection that Ox doesn't even grasp. In fact, Ox really is the last to know the depth of it. Joe is just a little kid when they meet, so there are no romantic feelings for many years. But, and when Ox finally notices that Joe is no longer a child -- the awkwardness is so priceless and gets taken to a whole new level (of awesome).
But there is danger ahead. Remember, this is a TJ Klune novel. And he cannot help but make sure your heart gets put through the same wringer he puts his characters through. And for almost half of this book, I wanted howl in pain and sorrow (not to mention the strong desire to inflict bodily harm on a certain author for all the pain!!!). Their separation nearly killed me. I thought it would never end.
"Three years, one month, twenty six days.."
When they are finally reunited, neither Ox, nor Joe are the same men they were before. Life and time and having to hold things together while being apart changed them both. Ox feels angry and abandoned, but the love is still there and it still burns strong, even if it takes Ox a little while to find it again. There is still danger and though it takes Joe too long to figure it out, they are far stronger together than they ever were apart.
"I will always choose you."
There were definitely events I didn't expect and I always love it when an author takes me somewhere I didn't expect to go. And when I finished, all I could wish for was more. 400 pages wasn't enough. I do hope hope hope that we get more. And I hope my heart can take it.
ARC of Wolfsong was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
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