2 / 5
"Brian Robeson stared out the window of the small plane at the endless green northern wilderness below."
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single-engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered Windbreaker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present -- and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parent's divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self pity, or despair -- it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.
For twenty years Gary Paulsen's award-winning contemporary classic has been the survival story with which all others are compared. This new edition, with a reading group guide, will introduce a new generation of readers to this page-turning, heart-stopping adventure.
It seemed like everyone and their mother had this book assigned to them in middle school. I never did, though, and because it was an award-winner, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Well? Meh. I always wonder if these books were more appealing when they were actually published, or maybe it's just that survivalist stories just aren't my jam. I suppose I was impressed by a book that could feasibly appeal to a young, male audience, which was a new idea at the time of publication. So I do appreciate that. And I know many loved this story. It just didn't draw me in. While part of me wanted to pay serious attention because you never know when you might be stranded and need basic survival skills - which I think is the appeal of the book, really - I just didn't always enjoy the minutiae of watching Brian set up camp. Part of what might have bothered me, though, was the absolute hopelessness of ever being rescued - that just felt so bleak to me, and I wondered: why bother? Of course, I understand why Brian did, but I don't know if I could have rallied quite like he did - he almost took things in stride, which I very much respect. Perhaps that is just what happens - your survival instinct kicks in before you have time to recognize your hopeless situation for what it is, because yes, food will take precedence over contemplation.
Now that I think about it, perhaps the narration was also what negatively influenced the book, for me! The audiobook version featured an older male's voice which just kind of felt lethargic, and it included "dramatic music" at certain points, which I think can work really well if done right - but just wasn't, in this case. Hmm.
I also do wonder if this book would have resonated with me more when I was younger. I sometimes feel as if I missed out on some great opportunities for discovering beloved books when I could have identified more with them. But, alas, such is the way life goes! I am glad that I did read this book, finally, even if it will never be a favorite.
P.S. There are sequels to this book. Sequels! I can't even fathom...has anyone ever read any of them? I am just so curious. Does Brian get stranded again and again? Do we follow him until he grows to adulthood, watching how his life is affected by this formative experience? I'm SO intrigued!
Support Shelf Notes! Purchase your copy of this book here: