When shaggy-haired Virgil Whitman appears at K.J.'s high school one day, she's instantly smitten. A transplant from Minnesota, he's gorgeous, laidback, and a brilliant wildlife photographer. Getting paired up with him for a journalism project, puts K.J. over the moon. Wolf-watching with Virgil and his wildlife biology professor mother is exciting; K.J.'s mesmerized by the beauty of the animals (not to mention her journalism partner). Her obsession with them grows every time she pens a new article for her "Wolf Notes" column.
The plot to Kristen Chandler's debut novel, Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me, may seem a little far-fetched, but I remember well the fight between loggers and environmentalists that broke out in my home state of Washington over the spotted owl. The action in the book might get a little melodramatic - it's a book, after all - still, it was realistic enough to keep me thoroughly engrossed. Virgil didn't even turn into a werewolf. Imagine that! My favorite part of the novel, however, was K.J. Funny, snarky, self-deprecating K.J. She made me laugh, she also made me think and feel and root for her to triumph in her quest to save the wolves. While the novel's got a few rough spots (some awkward phrasing, a handful of copyediting errors, etc.), it's still a gem of a first novel. I enjoyed it, loved it really, and cannot wait to see what Chandler does next.