Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Candlewick Press, 2011
Audience: Middle Grade
Jack’s mom is gone, leaving him all alone on a campsite in Maine. Can he find his way back to Boston before the authorities realize what happened?
Ever since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times caught in a whirlwind of energy and "spinning" wildly until it’s over. But Jack never thought his mom would take off during the night and leave him at a campground in Acadia National Park, with no way to reach her and barely enough money for food. Any other kid would report his mom gone, but Jack knows by now that he needs to figure things out for himself - starting with how to get from the backwoods of Maine to his home in Boston before DSS catches on. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins the long journey south, a journey that will test his wits and his loyalties - and his trust that he may be part of a larger herd after all.
I chose to read this one because people at work said it was better than the Newbery winner.
While I don't agree with them, this was an incredible book. I just felt like I'd read stories similar to this one before. (The author even mentioned The Boxcar Children in the book, and the part where he stayed in the store reminded me of Where the Heart Is.)
I thought the author did a magnificent job of explaining WHY Jack ran and I loved that not even Jack fully understood why he didn't turn himself in when he was suffering so much. At the end, his real reason hit him hard. He was an incredibly resourceful young man. If I had been in his situation, I wouldn't have lasted the first 20 pages. I thought the ending was very sweet and I'm happy with it. I just felt more interested in The One and Only Ivan because it was something new to me.
Also, I thought it was interesting that the young people that Jack connected with best were girls. It made me think about the fact that the author was female. Why did she choose to write about a boy? Did she think that a girl on her own wouldn't be believable? The older characters that Jack connected with were both male and female. I think my favorite character was Big Jack. He really understood Jack and was there for him when he needed him. I realize that they are fictional characters, but I hope they stay in touch with each other. Fictionally. He could use a good father figure.
I'm glad I read this, even though I didn't like it as much as my co-workers did.
It was interesting to read about someone who had a completely different life from mine.