Written by Claire Cameron
Published by Little Brown and Co, February 11, 2014
My star rating – 2 stars
The black dog is not scratching. He goes back to his sniffing and huffing and then he starts cracking his bone. Stick and I are huddled tight. . . . It is dark and no Daddy or Mommy and after a while I watch the lids of my eyes close down like jaws.
Told from the point of view of a six-year-old child, The Bear is the story of Anna and her little brother, Stick–two young children forced to fend for themselves in Algonquin Park after a black bear attacks their parents. A gripping and mesmerizing exploration of the child psyche, this is a survival story unlike any other, one that asks what it takes to survive in the wilderness and what happens when predation comes from within. Find it on Goodreads
This is one of those situations that I really thought I was going to love this book. And for SO MANY reasons! One – it’s written by a Canadian woman. Two – it’s set in my favourite place in Ontario which is Algonquin Park! Sadly, this just didn’t hit the mark I hoped it would.
First off, this is a heartbreaking story of two young children, left alone in the wilderness to survive, after their parents are brutally attacked by a bear. Left alone at the ages of 5 and 2, these children are faced with the unthinkable and set out to find help. Being that this was from the perspective of a child, I was really looking forward to it. How an adult sees a situation is VERY different than a child. Children are so innocent and sheltered. Not yet aware of the dangers and realities of the world because their parents are there to protect them. I couldn’t wait to see how this all unfolded in the eyes of a 5 year old. On one hand the perspective was done well………. but the downfall was that it was done TOO well.
Kids associate things and situations with events of the past. They could smell a cookie and recall a time where they had those cookies before and then they begin comparing the two. They’re constantly recalling things that are familiar. That’s how they learn, remember, and connect the dots. I’ve raised two kids and the thought process of a 5 year old is nothing new to me. I also read Room by Emma Donoghue which I LOVED, mainly because it was from the perspective of a child. Unfortunately for this book, that’s what killed the experience.
The perspective of a child was just too much. As much as I appreciated hearing of the things in their past that she cherished, or the things that she remembered about her short years, or the love of her parents, it went – on – FOREVER! I could skip 10 pages and still not get to the point of what was going on. It was ok in the beginning, but it just kept going. I was so dragged down by her memories, and the strings she was attaching to this situation, that I found myself just not caring by the time the story moved forward. My brain power was so used up on all this useless information that I would forget what happened to even bring on the memory. It was just overkill. Had it not been done for so long, and so often, I would have been able to attach myself to the story.
That being said though, I really enjoyed how the setting was written. Like I mentioned, Algonquin Park is my favourite place in Ontario (I will actually be travelling back there in a few months time!) so it was nice to read about places i’ve been and being able to visualize it so well.
And her writing actually wasn’t bad! It had a really nice flow, and the pace was consistent. I think that I would love to read more from this author……. just as long as it’s told from the perspective of an adult!!! Sadly, this book just wasn’t for me!
Until next time, happy reading!