Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Realistic Fiction
What did you like about the book? “There’s more to survival than food and shelter.”
Willa, age 12, and her two younger twin brothers live in the Alaskan wilderness with their survivalist father. They moved there five years ago when their beloved mother died. At first it was fun living off the land with no electricity, no running water and no school to attend, but Willa is increasingly lonely for companionship, new books to read, and civilization. Her father is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for years, but recently he started drinking again and his behavior has become more erratic. It’s October and they don’t yet have enough food for winter, plus Willa is afraid she is physically unwell when she sees blood in her underwear (she doesn’t know about periods). When her father leaves for a hunting trip, Willa takes the opportunity to escape with her brothers (and a stowaway wolf pup) on a raft toward Fort Yukon where she plans to call her aunt who lives in New York. Along the way they encounter danger in the form of brown bears, icy cold nights, and a diminishing food supply.
Non-stop action, well described survival elements, and fewer than 200 pages make this a perfect book for reluctant readers. Willa’s strong first person narrative is another highlight of this book. I read it in less than a day and predict many other readers will find it impossible to put down, as well. Highly recommended!
To whom would you recommend this book? Students who like adventure and survival books will love this one. It’s also perfect for reluctant readers!
Anything you didn’t like about it? The pacing is a little uneven in parts, but overall this is a great book.
Who should buy this book? All elementary and middle school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Realistic fiction or adventure fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA
Date reviewed: October 3, 2019