Book Reviews

The Bear: A Novel by Claire Cameron

17669036[1]“A powerful suspense story narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother after a brutal bear attack

While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, three hundred pounds of fury, is attacking the family’s campsite — and pouncing on her parents as prey.

At her dying mother’s faint urging, Anna manages to get her brother into the family’s canoe and paddle away. But when the canoe runs aground on the edge of the woods, the sister and brother must battle hunger, the elements, and a wilderness alive with danger. Lost and completely alone, they find that their only hope resides in Anna’s heartbreaking love for her family, and her struggle to be brave when nothing in her world seems safe anymore.

This is a story with a small narrator and a big heart. Cameron gracefully plumbs Anna’s young perspective on family, responsibility, and hope, charting both a tragically premature loss of innocence and a startling evolution as Anna reasons through the impossible  situations that confront her.

Lean and confident, and told in the innocent and honest voice of a five-year-old, THE BEAR is a transporting tale of loss — but also a poignant and surprisingly funny adventure about love and the raw instincts that enable us to survive.” ~ Amazon

The Bear: A Novel will be released on February 11, 2014

Let me just preface this review by saying that this is not a children’s book! Or one you would read as a bedtime story. Yikes!

The synopsis from Amazon pretty much sums up what this story is about and it is a short novel, only 240 pages. But the impact of these two children surviving such a brutal ordeal is unforgettable. What is even more jarring is the fact that Cameron begins the novel with an author’s note retelling the factual story of a couple who went camping in 1991 at the same place where her fictional story takes place and were brutally attacked by a bear. Of course the media and animal professionals all weighed in and there was no clear reason why it occurred. No food left out to tempt it. No disturbance to it’s natural home or to any cubs. It remains a mystery. So Cameron ran with this story but just added children to the mix.

Anna and Alex (who is nicknamed Stick) are the survivors and 5 year old Anna is the narrator. The use of “her language” was a bit awkward to read at times but it really added to the element of suspense and drama. The children never really see what happens but hearing the attack and some other events that take place chill your bones as a reader and I found myself anxious thinking about what I would have done as the parent. Probably never go camping again.

Claire Cameron is a fantastic storyteller using survival, humor and the innocence of a child’s voice to propel the journey while keeping me on the edge of my seat. I smell “BOOK CLUB” pick!!

*Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for this uncorrected advance reader’s copy. I was not required to review this novel nor was I compensated.

To find out more about Claire Cameron, her books and events please visit her site here.

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