JUST KEEP WALKING, by Erin Soderberg Downing, Scholastic Press, Feb. 6, 2024, Paperback, $7.99 (ages 8-12)
A girl and her mom set out to hike 100 miles along the Superior Hiking Trail in Just Keep Walking, by Erin Soderberg Downing.
Two years after her parents’ surprising and painful split, twelve-year-old Jo and her mom find themselves on the 100-mile hike on the Superior Hiking Trail along Lake Superior’s north shore―a journey that Jo had always looked forward to hiking with her dad. It’s not a situation that either of them ever predicted they’d find themselves in, yet here they are in the wilderness with their entire lives stuffed into a pair of thirty-pound packs.
Along the trail, they’ll suffer through endless aches and pains, scorching heat, and crippling self-doubt. They’ll encounter bears, moose, and other wildlife and meet and collect an assortment of unlikely friends. Day after day, Jo will battle the incessant thoughts that come in and out of her head. But as one obstacle after the next continue to test her strength and ultimate survival, Jo will have to confront her greatest fears head on and learn how to be alone.
What begins as a journey to prove to her father that she and her mom can make it on their own turns into a quest to rediscover their strength, build resilience, and prove that they can survive―both for themselves and for each other. —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Press
Just Keep Walking is an outdoor adventure that celebrates self-discovery against the backdrop of a healthy mother-daughter relationship.
When Jo’s dad decides to create a new family and puts their needs ahead of her own, she decides to prove to him — and to herself — that she can accomplish hard things without him. She’s a determined character who grows leaps and bounds throughout the book.
Prior to writing Just Keep Walking, author Erin Soderberg Downing undertook the same journey as Jo and her mom with her 13-year-old son. That research became an experience she’ll never forget, and it proved vital for creating a book that feels authentic from beginning to end. The details of what to pack, how to dress, getting water, etc. are spot on. And her descriptions of the trail and weather make you feel like you’re there first-hand.
Just Keep Walking inspires an appreciation for the outdoors, and may just motivate a few readers to plan out their own adventures.
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