Shiver is about being human, and staying that way, within a fable about werewolves and two teenagers in love, no matter what their forms at any given moment. When Sam’s parents saw that he had been bitten by a wolf and could change
into a werewolf (at the very young age of eight), they tried to kill him. And Grace, who was bitten by a wolf but never changed into a werewolf (possibly because she had a high fever), had parents who cared more about their own lives than hers, her father even leaving her in a hot car that caused her fever, and her mother caring only about her own artwork. But someone loved Grace, and that someone was Sam, who as a wolf saw that “she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen, a tiny angel in the snow, and they were going to destroy her…And I stopped it.”
Shiver (indicating the shudder before the change from human to wolf) is poetic, the way true love is poetic, or as Rilke is quoted in this book, “one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.” Sam read Rilke, writes song lyrics, is emotional and can read people well, while Grace likes non-fiction works about “things,” trying to understand why her parents don’t love her more, although Sam tells her “They’re just simple, selfish people.” Grace has watched Sam as a wolf for years, especially at Christmas-time, at the back of her house at the edge of the woods, and as a wolf, Sam has watched her too. But this year when the weather turns warm Sam approaches her as a human.
As with all lovers, their societal groups merge, Grace’s friends Rachel and Olivia and later Isabel as well as Grace’s parents coming to know Sam, while he introduces her to his werewolf pack, when they’re human. Grace endeavors to keep Sam warm so that he won’t change back into a wolf, although this is difficult in October and November in Minnesota. In between these travails – and helping others who have been bitten by wolves – their romance exists, “she pressing her lips together as though she were keeping my kiss inside her, and me holding this moment that was as fragile as a bird in my hands.”
Will Grace and Sam be able to be together? Facing coldness, violence, injury, fate and seemingly insurmountable odds, they plunge on, trying to do so. Read Shiver and be delighted in its freshness, its energy, its innocence and its wisdom, and see what happens to thse two souls, destined to have met and struggled and to have learned from each other.
Shiver, a novel by Maggie Stiefvater, published by Scholastic Press, August 1, 2009, 400 pages.
Reviewed by Christina Zawadiwsky
Christina Zawadiwsky is Ukrainian-American, born in New York City, has a degree in Fine Arts, and is a poet, artist, journalist and TV producer. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Award, two Wisconsin Arts Boards Awards, a Co-Ordinating Council of Literary Magazines Writers Award, and an Art Futures Award, among other honors. She was the originator and producer of Where The Waters Meet, a local TV series created to facilitate the voices of artists of all genres in the media, for which she won two national and twenty local awards, including a Commitment to Community Television Award. She is also a contributing editor to the annual Pushcart Prize Anthology, the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and has published four books of poetry.