Julie of the Wolves tells the story of a young Eskimo girl, Miyax, who survives in the Arctic by making friends with a wolf pack. Throughout her adventure, she falls in love with the majesty of the natural world and struggles to accept that she must return to civilization. So vivid is Jean Craighead George’s depiction of the animal world that readers will fall in love with the wolves alongside Miyax. The novel introduces readers to the unique biome of the Arctic and the unique behaviors of the gray wolf. It also depicts many aspects of traditional Inuit culture and explores the challenges of assimilation and modernization felt by the native peoples.
The structure of "Julie of the Wolves" helps create excitement and suspense. By beginning with the wolf pack, the book hooks the reader's interest and tells us this will be an adventure story. This beginning also reveals that the wolves will be some of the most important characters in the book. The narrator's hints about Miyax's past in Part 1 keep the reader in suspense until her background is revealed in Part 2. By Part 3, we see that Miyax is conflicted between her life in Part 1 and Part 2. Part 3 contains the resolution in which Miyax will choose one life over the other.
The story begins in medias res. Miyax is out on the tundra, starving and trying to make friends with the nearby wolves. In the first third of the book, we get to know the wolves and watch Miyax use her father's wisdom to survive in the wild. We learn that fear and unhappiness led Miyax to run away.
The second part of the book is a flashback. It tells about Miyax's life in civilization and explains why she ran away and ended up lost in the tundra. In this section, we learn more about Miyax's deep love for her father Kapugen and her dislike of her aunt Martha and her child husband, Daniel.
In the last part of the book, Miyax has to decide where to live: in the village with humans or in the tundra with wolves. Her past meets her present when she discovers that Kapugen is not dead, but alive and well. Miyax makes a choice to leave the tundra and return to civilization with her father.