#TBT Book Review: Hatchet

61ojqdijykL._AC_US218_Title: Hatchet

Author: Gary Paulsen

Genre:  Young Adult, Coming of Age

Pub Date: Reissue, August 25, 2009


Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake–and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure. 

Brian had been distraught over his parents’ impending divorce and the secret he carries about his mother, but now he is truly desolate and alone. Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day’s challenges. Is the water safe to drink? Are the berries he finds poisonous?

Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage–an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive.

A story of survival and of transformation, this riveting book has sparked many a reader’s interest in venturing into the wild.

 Last Thursday in #TBT Review, I shared the first book I read for the 48-Hour Reading Challenge in June 2007. Hatchet was the second book I read for this challenge. I chose this book because our son had to read for the summer so I thought I would read it first. I actually really enjoyed it, and can definitely see why it was chosen.

Thirteen-year-old Brian is flying up to spend the summer with his dad in Canada due to the recent divorce of his parents. In the beginning, he is very fixated on the fact that he knows his mom’s secret…the true reason behind the divorce is that his mom has been having an affair…but it is truly background and I feel it doesn’t play too much into the general gist of the rest of the story.

So the pilot in the single engine has a heart attack and dies mid-flight, and Brian loses transmission and crashes in a lake. His only tool for survival is a hatchet that his mom gives him before he leaves. I think that the survivors on the last episode of Survivor could have learned a thing or two from Brian on how to survive. He creates a shelter, starts a fire, figures out how to fish without a line, hunts grouse and rabbits, and he plans for the future by creating a fish pen.

Brian also has run ins with a bear, a wolf, a tornado, and finally a moose that whips his butt. He survives for over 45 days out in the wild by himself!

Truly a great coming-of-age book that defines Brian in his later years…he obviously appreciates the little things.




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