Sunday, 29 December 2013

Review || Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother has given his as a present--and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart ever since his parents' divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self-pity, or despair--it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.

So, the first time I read this book was in grade 6. Which would've made it 1997/1998 or something like that. And it was a book that stayed with me, has stayed with me this whole time. I remember telling my aunt over the phone that this was my favourite book. I lost the ability to articulate exactly why as time passed, but for a time as a middle school-er it was the book.

I found a gently used copy of Hatchet at the library discard book sale this winter and scooped it up for about $1. I read the whole thing in a little over an hour last night for the first time since the sixth grade.

It's interesting, isn't it? Going back to old classics, old favourites. Trying to puzzle out why they meant so much to you. Why you connected with them so deeply. So viscerally.

Maybe it was a little bit of the fear. I have been a terrible hypochondriac for pretty much as long as I can remember. And for some reason I remember being 11 and having phantom chest pains while reading about the pilot having a heart attack. I also hate flying, so the idea of being in a Cessna, let alone crashing in one still actually terrifies me.

Maybe it was the survival bit. The fascination with Brian being able to keep himself alive. At 11, I would have liked to think I would've been smart enough to pull it off. Objectively. But realistically, I was repulsed enough at the thought of eating turtle eggs and butchering grouse. Still am, to be honest. I am not quite as picky of an eater as I was at 11, but I am not cut out for Survivor by any means. Hell, I can barely handle the thought of camping.

At 11, I probably would've given this 5 out of 5. And truthfully, it's more like a 3.5. It's a solid middle grade read, even if the ending is a little abrupt. But it captured my imagination and attention as a child, and for that I will be forever grateful.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)