The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab
“PLEEEEASE, DON’T STOP!” This is the plea heard by the Grateful Reader from a class full of students when reading a Gary Paulsen novel aloud. Novels such as Hatchet, DogSong, The Winter Room, are all beloved; burned in the memory of students as all-time favorites. Gary Paulsen’s tales of survival in the wilderness, gloriously vivid descriptions and gut-wrenching situations are so understandable after reading this memoir. Revealing his own struggles during childhood -from being dropped off at a train station as a 5- year-old, all the way to his revelation that the Army would be his destiny, keeps the reader in suspense, hanging on every word; even knowing that the storyteller survives to tell his story!
Time and time again, “the boys” grit, smarts, and determination to survive the unthinkable circumstances keep him alive. With neglectful parents who never cared or worried about him- he was fishing or “gone to the woods”- Gary feels deeply that he is “supposed to be here.” Readers will feel the same as they are transported to the edge of a stream to see a whitetail doe for the very first time. Spellbinding and magical. New readers and those that have fond memories of listening to or reading Gary Paulsen’s books, will be blessed by the calling to share his action- packed life; his victory over “jobs of work,” sharks, Manilla, and living as a street rat. Gary’s “brain-pictures” and the smiling librarian that introduced him to reading the “whole book” as a thirteen- year-old, helped him see that “he didn’t want to live in his past, but to see ahead, see what was over the next hill…”
Some heartfelt passages will be read over and over; others so brazenly hard to read that skipping over is an option. But EVERY word, paragraph, and page, is one step closer to SURVIVING Gary Paulsen’s childhood. Be brave. “The boy” is victorious and readers will feel the same. Five star “Survival Badge” from the Grateful Reader.