Out of the Wilderness

Deb Vanasse, Author
Deb Vanasse, Author Clarion Books $15 (176p) ISBN 978-0-395-91421-2
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Paperback - 178 pages - 978-1-940320-01-4
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Civilization might look pretty good to readers after they share Josh's experience living in the Alaskan wilderness inside a 10 x 20 cabin with his father and older half-brother, Nathan. Josh, who would be a freshman in high school, longs for the old days when he played on a hockey team and was surrounded by friends. Josh's father, however, is content to stay in the wilderness making up lost time with his older son. Meanwhile, Nathan, an avid nature enthusiast, strives to become self-sufficient by living without ""all things manmade."" The risks he takes outdoors on his own nearly cost him his life. In this chilling winter's tale, Vanasse (A Distant Enemy) covers the three classic conflicts: man against nature, man against man and man against himself; but events overshadow the characterizations, leaving her message muddied and no resolution for Josh and his family. Those who find Nathan's extremism as annoying as his father's insensitivity to his younger son's needs may still appreciate the beauty and danger of the landscape. Yet the irony, that Nathan feels a ""kinship"" with the very bear who nearly destroy him, is diluted here. For all of Nathan's obsession with his surroundings and Josh's remark that ""the wilderness would be with him always,"" young nature lovers are rarely allowed to experience the scenic grandeur for themselves, and must rely instead on dialogue to report what so captivates the brothers. Ages 10-14. (Mar.)
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