96 Miles – J.L. Esplin

   96 Miles – J.L. Esplin, Macmillan Audio, 2020

Format: cd audiobook, 7 CDs, 8 hours, 20 minutes

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

 Genre: Realistic fiction

 What did you like about the book? 13-year-old John and his 11-year-old brother Stew are not too worried when the power shuts down completely and everywhere in Nevada.  Their dad, away on a trip, is a survivalist.  They have plenty of water and food and gasoline to run the generator j- even after two weeks.  A group of nasty, desperate men ambush the boys by night taking all their water, food and gasoline.  Fortunately they still have the survival packs their father made hidden away.  But they can no longer survive on their own; they must make it to friends who live 96 miles away – walking.  John is convinced they can somehow do it; Stew is not so sure but what are the alternatives? Barely into their journey they are joined by Cleverly and her brother Will who have even less, much less, than they do.

All of the characters are fully fleshed out, completely real and believable.  All have limits and each has skills and expertise – but they are kids.

One of the best opening sentences: “Dad always said if things get desperate, it’s okay to drink the water in the toilet bowl.”

Robbie Daymond is a voice-over artist who has done more voice-overs than it is almost impossible to list.  In addition to narrating books, he has done movies and video games.  He demonstrated his expertise in this story becoming the voice of teenagers and younger.  Very good whining and exasperation!

Anything you did not like about the book?  Absolutely not.

To whom would you recommend this book? It’s hard not to think of the iconic survival story, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, but also Weasel by Cynthia DeFelice and Toughboy and Sister by Kirkpatrick Hill.

Who should buy this book? Public, Elementary and middle-school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Juvenile/Middle school audiobooks

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  YES!

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Manager, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review:  5/30/2020

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