Last Updated on March 4, 2016, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 353
Maggie Stiefvater’s 2009 novel Shiver is a story of true love, determination, and belonging.
Told in alternating points of view, the novel recounts the story of teenagers Grace and Sam. Grace has always had a strange relationship with the wolves outside her Minnesota home, ever since being attacked by them as a child. They both scare her and fascinate her, and one in particular draws her interest. He is her yellow-eyed wolf, and he intrigues her.
Sam is a boy with a secret. In the warmth of the summer, he is a human, a thin boy with floppy hair and a love of reading. In the cold of winter, he turns into a black wolf with yellow eyes that roams the forest near Grace’s house. Sam feels a sense of belonging in his pack of fellow wolves, but he yearns to remain human.
When Sam is shot as a wolf, the shock turns him back into a human, and he crawls to Grace’s door for help. Grace cares for him, provides him with a place to stay, and keeps his secret. Together, they share their insecurities, support each other, and fall in love. They are opposites: Grace is strong and practical, whereas Sam is sensitive and creative. They both have dark pasts, however. Sam’s parents tried to kill him when they discovered he was a werewolf, and Grace’s parents are emotionally neglectful. These experiences leave the teens insecure and lonely. Both Grace and Sam have always yearned for real love, and they find it in each other.
But time is short. Each year, Sam spends more months of the year in wolf form, and eventually he will stay a wolf. Sam is afraid of losing himself because he has only a faint recollection of his humanity when he is in wolf form. This is Sam’s last year as a human, and unless Grace can figure out how to keep him from changing, she will lose him forever.
Heartrending and raw, Steifvater’s Shiver offers a beautifully poetic fantasy of young love and the search for identity and belonging.
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