ALONE IN THE WOODS, by Rebecca Behrens, Sourcebooks Young Readers, Oct. 6, 2020, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
Former best friends must put their differences aside when they get lost in the woods in Rebecca Behrens’ Alone in the Woods.
Jocelyn and Alex have always been best friends… until they aren’t. Jocelyn’s not sure what happened, but she hopes the annual joint-family vacation in the isolated north woods will be the perfect spot to rekindle their friendship.
But Alex still isn’t herself when they get to the cabin. And Jocelyn reaches a breaking point during a rafting trip that goes horribly wrong. When the girls’ tube tears it leaves them stranded and alone. And before they know it, the two are hopelessly lost.
Wearing swimsuits and water shoes and with only the contents of their wet backpack, the girls face threats from the elements. And as they spend days and nights lost in the wilderness, they’ll have to overcome their fractured friendship to make it out of the woods alive. —Synopsis provided by Sourcebooks Young Readers
Jocelyn and Alex are about to enter eighth grade when their adventure takes place. As such, the book is full of all the middle-school emotions and drama that you’d expect. Alex went away to summer camp and came back a different person. Jocelyn didn’t change at all. Where they used to be inseparable, now, the former friends are incompatible.
While the friendship dynamic is compelling, it’s not what draws readers in. Instead, it’s the setting and the journey the two take in the wilderness.
Author Rebecca Behrens does a fantastic job setting the scene. I could practically feel bugs crawling all over me and the pain of sunburn and tick bites. The sense of confusion that overtakes the girls as they progress is particularly moving.
As an adult, I struggled to connect with Alex. I found her more than a little annoying. She comes across as very self-absorbed. I think this will be less of an issue for the intended audience, however, I have a feeling, readers will immediately find themselves on either Team Alex or Team Jocelyn. For that reason, I suggest checking it out from the library before purchasing.
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