At the end of World War II, Jack Baker, a landlocked Kansas boy, is suddenly uprooted after his mother’s death and placed in a boy’s boarding school in Maine. There, Jack encounters Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as a story and collects clippings about the sightings of a great black bear in the nearby mountains.
Newcomer Jack feels lost yet can’t help being drawn to Early, who won’t believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the Great Appalachian Bear, Timber Rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as The Fish, who never returned from the war. When the boys find themselves unexpectedly alone at school, they embark on a quest on the Appalachian Trail in search of the great black bear.
But what they are searching for is sometimes different from what they find. They will meet truly strange characters, each of whom figures into the pi story Early weaves as they travel, while discovering things they never realized about themselves and others in their lives.
I love her characters - they are warm, quirky and absolutely unique.
Navigating Early is a story about friendship and how sometimes you find friends in strange places. Jack has just lost his mom and his military father is sending him to a military boarding school in Maine. Jack is doing his best to fit into the school but he is adrift until a small unusual boy helps him with his rowing and sets him straight. Early Auden is presented as a mathematical savant who keeps to himself and decides to help Jack learn to crew. Jack is strangely attracted to Early and his story about Pi (the mathematical equation) who to Early is a person who exists and is lost. A bit like the Rain Man the two set out on an adventure in a canoe to find Pi and the Great Appalachian bear and themselves along the way. They meet some scary characters and the adventure has the potential several times to be very dangerous. The characters are wonderful and I fell in love with them just as quickly as I did in Clare Vanderpool's other book , Moon Over Manifest. They are quirky, they are human and they will win your heart!