YA Book Review-Hatchet

Title: Hatchet
Author: Gary Paulsen
Publisher: Puffin Books
Genre: Adventure/Survival
Pages: 195
Recommended by: Textbook honor list page 16 This book was: excellent

Censorship Problems: Some parents might find it too realistic or frightening for their children.

Story Summary: After managing to crash land a single engine plane, after the pilot has a massive heart attach, 13 year old Brian is forced to spend 45 days alone, learning to survive in the woods. He is left with only the shredded clothes on his back, a hatchet his mother gave him as a parting gift, and his wits. He faces injuries from the crash, mosquito swarms, learning what berries to eat and to fashion his own hunting weapons. Brian learns to hunt, to see the world with more detail and to look outside himself for answers. During this time he is also struggling to deal with his parent’s recent divorce, and his mother’s affair that his father still did not know about. In his growth he learned to see the bigger picture, to store food for latter, to make sure he is not seriously injured so he can protect himself and hunt, to observe nature and think beyond his own immediate wants.

Remarks: I think that boys will be able to get into the action of the book and connect with Brian. Young Brian is an average boy, not a straight A student or an Eagle Scout. He has had no survival experience before he is thrown into this situation, which could give readers some confidence that they could do the same. Brian shows great growth and success in the wilderness, despite his initial childish weaknesses. This change could help readers look at their own actions and see what changes they might be able to make, and those that they may have already made to become more mature. Young people could also connect with Brian because of his parent’s situation and the shared custody that he will now have to deal with. In this era theses problems are quite common and a reader could identify their own doubts or worries about the future to his.
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