Vanasse, Deb. Out of the Wilderness. Clarion, 1999. ISBN 0-39591-1421-3. $15.00. 165 pp. A 6-9 FI Reviewed by Sandra L. Tidwell Fifteen-year-old Josh Harris, who last winter was leading a normal life and playing on his high school ice hockey team, now finds himself “roughing it” during an Alaska winter with his Dad and older half-brother, Nathan. Survival skills are not the only thing that the family struggles with, as Nathan goes off to live alone after a disagreement over killing a charging bear. Josh is the level-headed son, but he can only see his father’s concern for Nathan. Even Shannon, a girl who comes to stay in a nearby cabin with her father, admires Nathan’s philosophical approach to nature. The absence of bad language in the book was much appreciated and left the moving plot free of distractions. The conversations between the teenagers in the story are believable. Josh’s perspective, through which the story is told, reveals his inner fears and struggles. And the story doesn’t have a fairy-tale ending. Just like life, challenges are met a little at a time and the family’s struggles aren’t all solved during this single winter in the wilds of Alaska. At the end of the story Nathan is recovering in a hospital after being mauled by a bear, Josh’s parents are still divorced, and Josh’s dad still has many concerns for independent and often stubborn Nathan. The book’s main message to parents and teenagers is to communicate.
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