Rating: High Five
Who I'd Recommend to: Fans of Jerry Spinelli, Pam Munoz Ryan's Paint the Wind, and anything Jacqueline Woodson.
When Jack Baker’s father sends him from his home in Kansas to attend a boys’ boarding school in Maine, Jack doesn’t know what to expect. Certainly not Early Auden, the strangest of boys. Early keeps to himself, reads the number pi as a story, and refuses to accept truths others take for granted. Jack, feeling lonely and out of place, connects with Early, and the two become friends.
During a break from school, the boys set out for the Appalachian Trail on a quest for a great black bear. As Jack and Early travel deeper into the mountains, they meet peculiar and dangerous characters, and they make some shocking discoveries. But their adventure is only just beginning. Will Jack’s and Early’s friendship last the journey? Can the boys make it home alive?
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The writing - THE WRITING! This, along with the characters, was the best aspect of this book. It was written so poetically, so eloquently, so metaphorically that my head was swimming with Vanderpool's mesmerizing language. And her ability to do it so flawlessly is incredible, so. The author just eases these unbelievable messages and metaphors into the story, and then it just hits you how perfect it was for that moment, and how it just shows the characters so deeply. I also loved how Vanderpool used characters to help portray these messages to the main character, Jack, such as with Gunnar (another incredible feat of writing :). Gunnar is a woodsmen in the woods of Maine, alone, when Jack and Early stumble upon him, and in their short time together, each character learns so much about themselves... and each other. For example, Gunnar tells Jack and Early that: "I once hear a poem about angling. It says that when you angle, it is like casting your worries down the river. I keep casting." I don't think I have to explain the beauty behind those simple lines for you to understand my meaning.
And even in the flawlessness of the poetic writing, Vanderpool still adds in interesting quirks, such as Early and his theory about Pi, the number and also a character in Early's imagination. At first, I didn't think much of it, but Vanderpool just delves into Jack, Early, and even Pi's journey and then everything pieces together. I just loved how the characters seemed to follow Pi's unbelievable journey, which really helped make this story for me.
Let's see... writing - check. Characters- check. Story - check. There is so much more amazingness to this story (I'm running out of good adjectives!) that I couldn't possibly contain it all within one review, but I did my best. Now you just have have to read this incredible book to experience Jack, Early, and Pi's mesmerizing story. :)