Tuesday, January 15, 2013
by Clare Vanderpool
Delacorte, 2013. 306 pgs. Fiction
When Jack Baker leaves Kansas after his mother's death to join his father in Maine right after World War II, he throws up when he sees the ocean. What will his father, a naval officer, think? A father who has been at war for four years, and who now has nothing to come home to except a motherless boy he hardly knows. Jack's dad parks him at the Morton Hill Academy near the shipyard where he is stationed, and Jack, a Great Plains boy has the expected difficulties fitting in. But then he meets Early Auden, a boy who sees colors and a story in the endlessly unfolding numbers of pi, and who helps Jack find his bearings while they both search for what is missing on a week long quest on the Appalachian Trail. Although Ms. Vanderpool's story is not without its excitements--the Northern Woods' version of pirates, encounters with snakes, raging rivers, and a great black bear--the heart of the story is the friendship of two very different boys who need to make new lives for themselves, or somehow find their old ones. A beautiful second novel by the author of the 2011 Newbery winner, Navigating Early may be a story better-beloved by adults than young people, but let's hope for both.