Paulsen, Gary. Brian's Return. Delacorte, 1999. ISBN 0-385-32500-2. $15.95. 115 pp. A 6+ FI Reviewed by Gabi Kupitz After Brian's adventures in Hatchet, The River, and Brian's Winter, it is understandable that the muscular and adventure-seasoned teenager hardly fits into the typical citified, teenage-male mold. Brian doesn't care for the pastimes of his friends: hanging out at the mall, discussing girls or who is currently doing drugs, and other teenage time-wasters. Even a juicy hamburger and a hot pizza have lost their appeal. When Brian literally beats the tar out of the star football player, who actually initiated the confrontation, Brian is assigned to Caleb Lancaster, a giant of a man and a family counselor. Caleb is also blind and black. After initial introductions and then a briefing on Brian's adventures-he is famous, after all-Caleb asks Brian to tell him something about the woods that he, Caleb, can see in his mind. After thinking a while about his wilderness survival feats, Brian describes a sunset for Caleb. It is Caleb who suggests that Brian go back-back to the woods and the Cree family that rescued him. Brian's preparation and his journey back into the wilderness is the study of a young man who, in longing to find himself and his place in the world, returns to the site of his physical and spiritual grounding. Short chapters, page-turning adventures, and the insights Brian discovers about himself and those who have gone before are some of the elements that make this Paulsen-promised “final book about Brian” a satisfying read.
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