A failed doctoral student named Ruth is obsessed with Annie Oakley and her theory that Oakley was driven by abuse she experienced at the hands of men she called "wolves." Meanwhile, Ruth discovers that a cheerleading coach at the local high school is abusing young women, and she befriends a high school student to whom Ruth is connected via their shared power of clairvoyance and time-travel. When Ruth goes back in time in a risky attempt to change events, she risks everything.
The introduction of the time travel is so adeptly written that the idea of this kind of element doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Andromeda Romano-Lax does a brilliant job of fitting it in. The book reads like literary or historical fiction, even though many different current topics are addressed within its pages, like school violence, suicide and sexual abuse ... Although the novel starts a bit slow, about a third of the way in, it sets off and keeps the reader attentive. I don’t know if I was more intrigued by the past with Annie or the present with Ruth. Everything was so perfectly woven together, leaving me eager for more. I think the hardest thing would be knowing how to classify the book with all its different elements. I’ve never been interested in the story of Annie Oakley, but now I feel an odd kinship to the folk heroine from reading Annie and the Wolves.
... a reckoning tale for the historical traumas that still shape America today ... An 'Indian' burial site said to be haunted by the young woman buried there. If that last sentence has you rolling your eyes, it is worth noting that Romano-Lax manages to avoid the trope’s major pitfalls ... a remarkable feat of plotting in that it braids together heavy subject matter Oakley’s biography, the history of psychoanalysis, sexual abuse, gun culture, and, yes, time travel, without becoming convoluted or pedantic. Romano-Lax so skillfully navigates parallel storylines and multiple perspectives that, even at just over four hundred pages, this work of speculative literary fiction, like time, flies by.
On its most powerful level, the book is a hyperactive psychological thriller, exploring the enduring damage done by childhood trauma and the need to mine and process it to become healthy, and the various ways in which victims do so ... psychological and historical approaches would have been enough. But the story veers into the realm of science fiction when characters start to travel forward in time, in some cases changing future events in ways only they will ever know about. Readers will differ on whether that supernatural element strengthens or weakens the story's impact. But all will find it a highly imaginative and compelling read.