Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood

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Gary Paulsen is pretty much the king of middle-grade fictional survivor stories: stark, compelling, and absolutely fascinating for readers young and old. But for this book, he is stepping away from fiction, telling the story of his own difficult and frightening childhood. His mother is a world-class drinker and uses her very young son to meet men. But for a short time, the boy is sent to live with a wonderful aunt and uncle on a farm in northern Minnesota. It is the best time of his young life but doesn’t last nearly long enough. His mother comes and takes him to Manila, Philippines to meet his father. There, his parents do little but drink and fight, leaving the boy on his own. It’s the same when they return stateside, and the boy learns to fend for himself.

Paulsen takes an interesting turn in writing this memoir in third-person point-of-view, referring to himself has “the boy.” Perhaps it’s a way to distance himself from the pain of his upbringing. No doubt his childhood was horrific, and he pulls no punches. This might be better for YA readers than middle-grade, but it’s very good.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 368 pages
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date 2021-Jan-12
ISBN 9780374314156
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue March 2021
Category Tweens


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