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3 out of 4 stars
Review by bluegreenmarina
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As he travels through the desert and mountains, Danny must be cunning and resourceful to survive the elements and safely make his passage toward his destination without being located by authorities. Along the way, Danny frequently meets with others who assist him in ways that prove essential to his survival, and learns the value of human contact and support. Following instructions given by his mother, Danny travels to the Pima Reservation to seek help. Through that process he becomes involved in their foster care system, being placed with a couple of different families before running off on his own again.
Throughout the events of the story, Danny struggles with the decision of whether to seek help through traditional channels, or to remain free and untethered but also solely responsible for all his own needs. One of the most vivid images in the book describes the concept of families like “islands in the desert” – little havens of safety and support that (ideally) provide sanctuary from the harsher realities of the real world. Family, as depicted in this story, can mean much more than just those who are related to us biologically. In Danny’s case, both members of his biological family to whom the reader is introduced end up as largely negative elements of his life, whereas several of the people he meets along his travels provide him with much more stability and nurture.
This story is full of fascinating outdoor survival information, presented in a clear and imagery-laden style (and it becomes clear toward the end of the story why Danny chooses to describe these events in such a way). As a narrator, Danny is believable and sympathetic, and the language and pacing of this book are appropriate for a middle-school reader, which is approximately Danny’s age at the start of the storyline. Though there are a few spelling and grammar mistakes within the narrative, these are easily explained by Danny’s inconsistent ability to attend school, and are not so numerous as to detract from the plot.
The only real negative is that certain sections left me wanting to know more, as the events within them were described in very brief terms, or left up to the reader to infer. One such section is when Danny is reunited with his mother, and comes to find out the circumstances leading up to and following her disappearance. I would have liked to learn more about that situation, as well as the final events at the climax of the story. Otherwise, the events described within these pages were engaging, and really put the comforts that most of us take for granted into perspective. I rate this book a strong 3 out of 4 stars.
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Great Review! 😀
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