Since the death of her mother, Miyax, an Eskimo girl in Alaska, has been raised by her father, Kapugen, who has been bringing her up in the ways of a traditional Inuit. It is a life based on the rhythms of the natural world.
When Miyax is nine, her aunt takes her away from her father to enroll her in an American school. There she is around Americanized Eskimos who call her "Julie," and she starts to believe her former life is a strange one. At 13, she not only finds herself without her family, but unhappily living in an arranged marriage. Desperate to escape, she leaves for San Francisco, the home of her pen pal, but soon Julie becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food or direction. There alone she becomes Miyax again, reverting to the traditional ways of her father, and gradually befriends a pack of wolves, who she names and communicates with, just as her father taught her.
But Miyax's life is again complicated when she discovers her father's whereabouts, and finds out that this time it is he who has tragically forsaken the old ways, which have become so crucial to her survival. John Schoenherr's line drawings subtly illustrate — named an ALA Notable Book and the recipient of the Newbery Medal in 1973, Julie of the Wolves is a unique coming-of-age story, which foregrounds the fact the search for one's origins and identity is always an arduous and complex journey.