Published in 1905, this is a classic tale (not tail, although many of those feature in this story) of an accidental cross-breed of wolf and dog – White Fang.
Although it was written over 115 years ago, this book retains is excitement levels, relevance and its punchy tenacity. There’s not many upper middle-grade books I’ve read these days that can hold a reader’s attention – for almost an entire 300-page book – with its central character being the pov of a wolf-dog.
The storytelling is engaging, emotional and epic – we follow White Fang’s every thought, feeling, movement and instinct as if we are this half-wild wolf-dog. And what a journey of pain, destitution, hunger and cruelty this is for the poor White Fang.
The story is in several parts, and actually starts off from the pov of humans before White Fang is born. Initially, some of the language and sentence structure used in this section was so complex I genuinely wondered if this was an adult book, not an upper-MG (so this is a book for confident readers). But, gradually, as things began unravelling and we joined White Fang as a cub and into his growing pains, I saw that – yes – this is a tale about how wild things deal with being in the wild. It is a tale about growing up, discovering yourself, dealing with bullying and abuse, and also how humans treat nature. Themes that children are interested in and love.
Reading this book, you need a pretty strong mind because a lot of the troubling scenarios White Fang finds himself in are quite traumatic. At one stage, I did cry reading this.
But, without spoiling the ending, you can keep hope throughout this story because it is a beautiful story of journeying through pain to find love and acceptance. White Fang is a big, challenging read and has the feel of an epic scale – like the Jungle Book – that you really don’t get so often these days.