A week-long canoe trip quickly becomes an all-out struggle for survival for two teenagers, one with diabetes. Mark and his cousin Randy barely know how to paddle a canoe when their fathers send them into the wilderness on an outing that is a family tradition. Overweight, underachieving Mark has scouting experience, diabetic Randy not even that. They begin to enjoy themselves, though--admiring the scenery, catching some fish--until a bear eats all their food and damages Randy's blood tester. The trip cut short, they incautiously skip a portage, hit heavy rapids, and lose the canoe, map, insulin, and nearly their lives. The first half of this adventure story is talky, as the two banter and bond. Once afoot, though, conversation dies as Randy's condition deteriorates; the last section is a heroic tale of endurance, made all the more harrowing by Mark's matter-of-fact narration. Carter (Dogwolf, 1994, etc.) wraps the story up with conventional, artificial neatness, but his characters display a winning mixture of semicompetence and stubborn courage.