Author: Gary Paulsen
Release Date: 1987
Genre: young adult/children's fiction, survival
My Rating: ***
Official Rating: Young Adult Fiction
Age Group: 12+
Awards: Newbery Medal, Dorthy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award
Brian is on the way to visit his dad via plane. He's working up in Canada in some remote location, and a small charter plane is going to take Brian there for the summer. Because Brian's parents aren't together anymore. Because of the Secret. Because of what Brian knows.
Brian knows about his mother cheating with that man. He saw them kissing in the car across the street from where Brian and his friend were playing. Brian didn't tell his father, and neither did his mother. But that didn't stop the divorce from happening.
At age thirteen, that's a tough thing to handle. Honestly, at any age that's a tough thing to handle.
But when the pilot has a heart attack over an unidentifiable wilderness, and Brian does what he can to fly the plane himself, things get a whole lot worse.
Especially when Brian crashes the plane.
Word of Warning
- Brian's parents are divorced. His mother cheated on his father (all the detail we have is that they were kissing) while they were still married.
- A very well-known survival story, filled with the elements of survival: struggles for shelter, food, and against the elements.
- Brian has to kill animals for food.
- Vomiting, diarrhea, sickness in general.
- Injuries, an attack by a moose (nothing too deadly or graphic)
- At a very low point, Brain tries to slit his wrists. His attempt fails, and in the morning he wakes up more determined than ever to live.
- Fighting against the elements, including a dramatic experience with a tornado.
It was decent. I think my all time favorite survival book will always be Jean Craighead George's My Side of the Mountain, but this is also a pretty good book. It gets a bit long, and the writing style isn't something I'm a big fan of (particularly the sentence structure), but there's nothing necessarily wrong with it.
My biggest objection is that it just gets too long. I realize Brian was stuck in the wilderness for a long time, but I just started to lose interest after a while, especially since, knowing the genre, I had no doubt that Brian would somehow survive.
It's a rough adventure for Brian. He goes through a lot. But he makes it, and he's smart. In our ever-changing society which is becoming more and more paved, it's nice to still have a good wilderness adventure book standing strong and still being eagerly read by a variety of readers.