cover image  Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood

Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood

Gary Paulsen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-374-31415-6

In this memoir told in five sections, Newbery Medalist Paulsen (Hatchet), best known for his riveting survival stories, shares the turbulent early life experiences that led to his writing career. After his mother finds munitions plant work in 1944 Chicago, “the boy,” then five, accompanies her to bars and “sing[s] to draw men” for her. Scandalized, his grandmother arranges for him to stay at his loving aunt and uncle’s Minnesota farm. After a few idyllic months enjoying the outdoors, however, Paulsen’s mother insists they join his father, stationed in Manila, but the overseas journey and witnessing brutal killings in the wake of WWII prove difficult. As a teen in North Dakota, Paulsen repeatedly runs away from his increasingly volatile parents and befriends a kind librarian, who encourages him to write. But it isn’t until he enlists in the military and is faced with inflicting the same brutality that he saw in Manila that he knows he wants something different in life. Told in the third person, Paulsen’s raw memoir renders “the boy” a curious and savvy protagonist who constantly forges ahead, resulting in a riveting, hopeful survival story about personal resilience amid trauma. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Jennifer Flannery, Flannery Literary. (Jan.) [/em]