by Gary Paulsen
As a younger reader, I was a big fan of Gary Paulsen. The first book of his I read was Hatchet. It\’s a survival story, set in the northern wilderness. After his parents\’ divorce, thirteen-year-old Brian survives a plane crash on a remote lake while on the way to visit his father in Canada. He finds himself all alone, miles off course (which makes search and rescue success unlikely) with nothing but a hatchet in his belt. Brian must learn quickly how to make a fire, build a shelter, find food, etc. At the same time he struggles internally with the anger he feels at his parents. There are several things I really liked about this story. First, it doesn\’t shy away from the gritty details. Right after the landing Brian is in shock, it\’s freezing cold, he almost gets eaten alive by mosquitoes, he gets sick all over the place, etc. Even after he gets the hang of things, there\’s still lots of unpleasantness- rain and mud, porcupines and skunks, fish slime and bird guts. You get the picture. Very realistic. Secondly, the story is just as much about how Brian changes because of his ordeal, as it is about what he does to survive. He comes to appreciate the beauty of the wilderness. He learns patience and problem-solving skills. He matures a lot emotionally, and comes out of the experience a very different person. Great book.
Rating: 4/5 …….. 195 pages, 1987