"Howl: Of Woman and Wolf" is an emotional, spiritual and educational literary journey.
Susan Imhoff Bird takes the reader on this journey in her recent book, which was released Oct. 13, introducing wolves and their plight, dignity, resourcefulness and stories as hunters, mates, pack leaders and parents.
At the same time, she weaves in her personal journey as she bears a child with special needs, a healthy boy, twin girls and loses a child in the process. She goes through a divorce and is badly injured in a cycling crash. She needs to heal.
As she tracks the wolves in the American West and tries to both understand and stop the killing of these intelligent, beautiful creatures, she yearns to learn to literally and figuratively to howl (and heal) as they do — with abandon and total heart.
Along the way, Bird shares her research, the vast information she's collected and her thoughts about man's decisions where wolves are concerned.
She interviews ranchers who have no use for the "varmints" and hunters and rangers and watchers who follow the wolves from forest to forest trying to key in on how they think, how they survive.
There's humor here along with a sense of pragmatism as she comes to recognize the fear, the prejudice and the realities on both sides of the argument.
However, coming through clearly is a clarion call for the wolf's survival.
Bird makes it clear that without wolves, nature will suffer. The wolves serve a purpose in the food chain and in the balance of life on the planet.
Meanwhile, Bird's life is undergoing changes. When she gives birth to twin boys, one dies and another has cerebral palsy and refuses to meet her gaze. She's told in the newborn nursery that the "seeds of divorce are sewn here" but she and her husband vow to be the exception.
She bears a healthy baby, then twin daughters. One husband leaves and another cannot deal with the stresses of caring for a special-needs child.
Bird's story is full of heartache, woe and self-discovery as she tries to find solace and peace in "running with the wolves."
It doesn't have any foul language or sexual content and there is some violence involving animals and hunting kills.
Coupled with the fascinating information about wolves, it makes for a soulful, intriguing story.