Grizzly Lake by Robert Woods is the story of (I’d imagine) your typical fourteen-year-old boy, set in the 1970s near Portland, Oregon. Bobby had been struggling through his seventh-grade year of school and, because of this, his parents and teachers decide that he needs “some spanking” in the form of being grounded for the summer to help him fix his issues. With summer just starting, a child of any age would look forward to spending it out in the sun with friends. Instead, Bobby is made to work in his parent’s furniture factory making buttons for chairs and sofas for the unforeseen future. An unexpected meeting causes his parents to close up shop early and let him have the rest of the day to himself. With this time off, Bobby meets up with his friend, Mike, who tells him of an opportunity to travel to Mount St. Helens to work at a YMCA fixing up the camp for two weeks (with pay!). Bobby is not looking forward to making buttons the rest of the summer, so he and Mike forge his mother’s signature and they head off to camp.
At camp, Bobby is one of the youngest there, but that doesn’t stop him from proving his worth. While there, Bobby and the other boys are made to do hard work, but get their downtime to play some poker, ride on sailboats, and explore. After some typical jeering from the boys, Bobby feels like he must prove himself and ends up lost in the woods during the night. Some would say that because of dumb luck, nature, or simply the mountain helping him, he was able to find his way
back to camp.
While the boys are all too human and juveniles, there are times of fighting and stealing, but, for the most part, the boys in this camp are very well-behaved and respectful of their leaders. Bobby is the type of boy I hope for all boys to become (minus the running away). I enjoyed this book as a simple, yet complex book. The text was very simple-sounding with no contractions used, which makes me think of the beginning-reader books. And although the text is simple, the topics within the text are not. Topics, such as broken families, sexualization, fighting, disobedience, juvenile smoking, and suicide are mentioned, which might not be appropriate for a young child to read. I would recommend this book to anyone in their late teens through any age. Older readers might be able to relate more if they were growing up during the 1970s.
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