Review Detail

Kids Fiction 185
Friend Drama and Survival
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Jocelyn always looks forward to the vacation in a cabin that she and her friend Alex's family take every year. From doughnuts at the lumberjack themed diner to the ritual jumping in the lake, the girls have a settled routine from which they never waiver. This year, however, Alex is angry at Jocelyn, who is not sure how to make things right. Jocelyn still doesn't care about fashion or boys, but Alex made friends with the popular Laura at a summer camp, and is now embarrassed by Jocelyn's "childish" ways. The girls bicker constantly, and when the family is out on a rafting trip, their shared raft isn't any fun, with Alex constantly checking her phone and ignoring the outdoors, which Jocelyn loves. Jocelyn bounces the raft, Alex's phone falls out, and the two become separated from the group while they search for it. When the raft springs a leak, they end up on the shore, and fall further and further behind. They take what they think is a shortcut and end up far from the water. As night falls, they are armed only with bathing suits, inadequate footwear, no bug repellent, and very limited food. Jocelyn tries to use good survival skills, but Alex can't put their squabble behind her even to take sensible measures. Will the two be able to mend their friendship and survive several days in the North woods?
Good Points
The pacing of this is excellent, with the friend drama and details about surviving in the woods trading off frequently enough to keep us curious as to what will happen next! It was also good to hear about what a typical vacation was like; I certainly needed a virtual vacation when I read this, and the details about the cabin, activities, etc. were wonderful. The difficulties that Alex and Jocelyn are facing with their middle school relationship are absolutely spot on; friendships can and do hinge on silly things like a risible sweatshirt. There are some great survival details, and you can bet that if I ever go rafting, I will be taking a very large, waterproof backpack with a ton of supplies!

There were so many good tips about surviving in the wilderness! I was a little surprised that Alex was so clueless that she sprays body spray on herself in an effort to keep warm without realizing that this would attract bugs, but at that point she was being so obnoxious to Jocelyn that it was a nice infusion of schadenfreude. I always identify with the friends being left behind, so Alex's meanness felt very evil-- but that's good writing!

I enjoyed this author's When Audrey Met Alice, The Last Grand Adventure, and especially Disaster Days, Definitely purchasing, and hope that Behrens turns her hand to a couple of other survival books; she has a real knack for these!
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