This is the third book in the story of the Byrne family, Irish farmers whose lives were overturned in Greener Grass, then tested so severely in Wild Geese.
In Timber Wolf, Kit's younger brother, is now the focus. Jack is determined to make his mark in the rough-and-ready lumbering industry up the Ottawa river from late 1840s Bytown. The young boy, not yet a teenager but full of braggadocio, is sure that he can quickly learn to be a hard-muscled and brave rafts-man. But as the story opens, we find Jack lying on a rocky floor in the deep forest, sore and bruised - and in fact totally unaware of who and where he is. Throughout the story Jack gradually pieces together dreams, vague clues and reminders that tell him of his history - in the course of which comes to grips with mistakes he has made. One of the mistakes he remembers, was in leading his best friend Mick into a huge logjam whose explosion probably killed him. Guilt becomes the governing theme of Jack's recovery. At the same time he meets, is terrified by, and eventually guarded by a young wolf who appears out of the woods early in his ordeal - and also stumbles into a relationship with an aboriginal family whose young son's own stormy coming of age coincides with Jack's developing awareness.
In Caroline Pignat's more than able hands, this concluding piece of the Byrne family saga is engaging, funny, stirring, and ultimately most satisfying. Pignat's ability to weave well-researched historical details into her beautifully told tale is stunning. And the voice of the story - as was true in the previous volumes - carries an unmistakable lilt. This is an author who has learned how to create a yarn - this one especially appealing to middle-grade boy readers hungry for adventure.
Born in Dublin and raised in Ottawa, Caroline Pignat teaches grade 12 Writer's Craft and grade 11 English in Ottawa. She is the Governor General's Award Winning Author of Greener Grass as well as the critically acclaimed young adult novels Egghead and Wild Geese.
"(Pignat's) astonishing ability to speak from a young boy's perspective and attention to detail transforms a good children's story into classic literature."
-- The Winnipeg Review