I could not put this book down. On the first night of a camping trip, an 11 year old boy is left to fend for himself. His mother has done this before so he rationally works through his options as he tries to get back to his home, two states away. He is broke, alone and scared. He doesn’t want to be found because authorities will take him away from his mother and place him in a home. As he makes his long journey toward home, his knowledge of elephants is interestingly woven in the story. Readers are provided with intimate details of Jack’s life with his mentally ill mother. He understands her behavior when she is not taking her medication and aptly describes the high as “spinning”. He feels responsible for her and often makes adjustments in his responses to her.
This book was awarded the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award in 2013.
It’s written for middle school age children. I’m debating if it would be an appropriate book for my nephew, age 12, to read. His reading level would match but I think the content might be too advanced for him because he seems a bit protected. It really depends on the child.
Realistic fiction, mental illness, middle grades