cover image Emory's Gift

Emory's Gift

W. Bruce Cameron. Forge, $22.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2781-9

When Charlie Hall loses his mother at the age of 13, he feels adrift. His father is distant, and eighth grade isn't treating him well. That is until he has a chance encounter with a grizzly bear, who saves him from the jaws of a hungry cougar. The bear seems to understand Charlie's words and actions, and Charlie soon finds himself befriending the animal. When he writes his name "Charlie" in the dirt, the bear replies by signing his own%E2%80%94"Emory." What follows is an unbelievable tale of a bear with a message of universal love, a boy who finally rekindles love in his life, and a town brought together by a miracle. Cameron (A Dog's Purpose) replaces his trademark humor with schmaltz worthy of Kevin Alan Milne and other authors in the genre. The plot device itself%E2%80%94the bear, Emory, who is supposedly a reincarnated Civil War soldier%E2%80%94is laughably absurd. While Cameron conveys the challenges of adolescence, it's not enough to save this trite fable. (Sept.)