4 out of 4 stars
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Wilderness Therapy by Paul Cumbo is a story that takes a psychological look at the mindset of teenage boys. Mike was an average high school student until the day his little brother drowned. Losing Andrew was just too much for him after Mike’s dad died of a heart attack three years earlier. With his life in a tailspin, Mike searches for someone to blame and ends up taking a gun to school. Fortunately, Mike avoids a harsh sentence, but finds himself shipped out to the wilderness to begin a rehabilitation program with other boys who were headed down the wrong path. Mike begins to release some of his feelings, but can’t help notice that Liam, one of the therapy participants, is acting pretty suspiciously. Will the boys be able to benefit from their time in the wilderness, or will tragedy strike again?
My first reaction to this book is, wow, what a story! I really enjoyed the finished project. The book was exceptionally edited with only a couple of minor errors that I could find. The characters were very well-depicted, particularly Mike, the wilderness therapist Liz, the other boys (especially Manny and Aiden), and Liam, the resident creep. I applaud the author for making him seem so realistic. He did an excellent job with all of the characters. Each one seemed like people you would actually meet in real life.
If there is anything I can complain about, it might be that the story is a little slow until about half-way through when a big event occurs. After that point, the book raced on to its conclusion at an excellent pace. The earlier chapters were great for character-development, though; they helped establish who each character was, their emotional hang-ups and whatever was going on with Liam. I especially liked reading Mike’s perspective and seeing how a normal boy can suddenly snap if the conditions are right, but he can also be saved with the right techniques and nurturing. I think that was a good message to send.
The themes in this book are pretty mature, so this book would not be suitable to a younger audience. There are descriptions of cutting, suicide, murder, violence, rape, drugs, animal abuse and crime. There’s also foul language and a couple of gay slurs that are aimed at one character. The personalities that use this language speak like actual people, so it doesn’t seem overdone or out of place in the novel.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. This story is for anyone who is interested in exploring the minds of teenage boys who have reached a crossroads. The action is very intriguing, and I loved the imagery of the wolves and the forest and the mountains. This book is a nice escape full of tragedy and redemption. I recommend it for adults who want to learn more about teen boys in particular.
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