Queenie by Raymond Greiner
Raymond Greiner’s Queenie begins with Korean war soldier Samuel as he leaves Korea and waits out his last few months of his duty in a base camp on the west coast. With little family to go back to and no love for any of them, Samuel surprisingly hears from his Uncle Jake in Alaska, who is becoming old in age and unable to care for his property. Jake offers Samuel his gold claim and hopes that the few fond memories that the two have are enough to entice Samuel to overtake Jake’s claim and to live out his foreseeable future in the home that Jake has built for himself. Anxious to escape the life that has surrounded him in recent years, Samuel accepts and moves to Alaska. Jake and Samuel begin to work together to maintain Jake’s claim, and Jake teaches Samuel the lifestyle that is necessary in such a desolate yet beautiful land. Early on in his time in Alaska, Samuel discovers six abandoned wolf cubs and takes them in to be his new team of sled dogs. Not only do the wolves work to perform their duties (and happily so), but the wolves also unknowingly save the lives of every person that they have touched throughout the story. A drunken, hopeless neighbor Philo turns his life around with the love of Queenie, the leader of the pack. Jake is given new ambition and motivation to live out his winter in the cabin on his land. Samuel meets Angel, a beautiful, native, local woman who takes a liking to the wolves and especially to Samuel. Throughout the story, we see how the lives of these individuals are intertwined and how their bonds have become stronger through the presence of the wolves.
Raymond Greiner’s story is one that is full of heart and emotion, yet one whose story could be further developed to engulf and present these emotions more fully. The progression of the story is one that is too fast-paced for a narrative and plot line that has the potential to be developed into one that is longer and one that would capture its true passions and sensations. Additionally, the writing itself could be further developed in order to portray these full emotions. The narrative of Samuel is efficient and captures his emotions, but the dialogue of each of the characters needs to be developed into clear voices for each of the characters and into dialogue that feels more natural. The dialogue that exists in the story seems more like narrative and explanations than it does dialogue that would be held between two people. As a reader, it was often confusing whether Samuel was narrating his thoughts or whether he (or any other character, as all characters seemed to have the same voice) was speaking his dialogue. That being said, the story that was told was one that allowed readers to develop a connection with the wolves in the story and still managed to interest readers into the development of the plot line.
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