Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald - Book Review #35

Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots
by Abby McDonald

Can a boy-hungry Jersey girl survive the wilds of Canada with her eco-identity intact? A witty new YA novel from the author of SOPHOMORE SWITCH.

Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots is the story about growing up and leaving the teenage maximalism behind, about understanding what you truly believe in, about avoiding extremes and finding compromises. It is also about family, friendship and sexuality. Of cause this book doesn’t cover any of these subjects completely, which, to begin with, is impossible. However it touch these subjects, some more, some less, like in life, where you are passing by a lot of different things and issues and you are touched more by ones and doesn’t notice others.

I expected this book to be funnier, then it was, but it didn’t spoil my impression. Instead I was pleasantly surprised that it had a moral, which wasn’t pushed down to the reader’s throat, but was gently, however quite visibly delivered.

Despite the fact that the title and the synopsis of the book clearly state that romance will be playing one of the main roles in the story, I completely disagree with that. I wouldn’t call Jenna a boy-hungry and it was refreshing to find out that she has other interests and responsibilities then boys and romantic relationships.

I really enjoy how Abby McDonald decided to end the story. It wasn’t a fairy-tale ending – “and they lived happily ever after”. No, Abby McDonald didn’t write a fairy-tale, she wrote a first stepping stone to the formation of Jenna’s personality. Abby McDonald did not resolve all of the problems that Jenna was facing, but she gave us the glimpse of the Jenna’s future, which might not be all rainbows and puppies, but the author also gave us a solid reassurance that Jenna will go through all of the obstacles and it will only make her stronger.

To summarize, Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots might look like a light and uncomplicated summer read for the teenage girls, but it also gives the reader some food for thought.


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