So since I've had the baby, I've had no time for my previous hobbies like reading, going to the movies, or watching reality television. (I'm lucky to keep up with the Housewives these days!) Whereas I used to finish a book in a couple of days, it can now take a couple of weeks; which is not at all to comment on whether or not the book is engaging, but moreover a statement on the very little time I have alone.
When doing some construction on our apartment a couple of weeks ago, I had to go through my books and get rid of a lot. This pained me greatly because I love books, but we just don't have room for my ever growing collection. One book that I found though was an old beat up copy of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. And the memories rushed in...
As you'll recall from yesterday's blog post, one of my favorite teachers Mrs. Arnold encouraged all of her students to read voraciously in order to attend a panel at UK based on Newberry Honor books. Hatchet was on that list and I remember everybody loving it... especially the boys in our class. The weird thing is that this book has always stayed with me, but I actually never read it. I just remember the rave reviews from the book reports folks in class gave.
So when I found the book the other day, I put it in the basket of the stroller and decided to finally see what all the hype was about. I was able to read it in bits and pieces, on the train if the baby and I had to go to Manhattan, at night while my husband gave Knox his bath, and on occasional trips to the bathroom (if we're really being honest here). The book is only 195 pages long and the typeset is big, but it took me three weeks to finish! Mrs. Arnold (now Mrs. Feix) would be so disappointed.
But it was worth the read. I was surprised at how long the author let thirteen-year-old Brian stay out in the Canadian forest alone and learning to survive. I thought that was a brave writer's choice and I appreciated struggling each day with the main character, basically witnessing the transition from boy to man. I texted my friend Haviland a few weeks ago that I was reading Hatchet, and he replied, "The drama!" Not having read it before, I was curious as to what he meant; and as I navigated food, fire, shelter, and his parents' divorce with the protagonist, I felt that Haviland hit the nail on the head. And what's even more interesting is that his response was so impassioned for a book he hasn't read in over fifteen years.
So Paulsen does a good job at crafting a survival story that doesn't feel forced or fake; rather, quite authentic. But more than that, while I didn't rush to read it as an eleven year old girl, I can now appreciate Hatchet as a young adult book that appeals to boys, and one that I think my son Knox will one day love.