A sudden tragedy sends 14-year-old Eli Sutton into a challenging Appalachian Trail adventure in which he confronts both his limitations and his powers of endurance.
Eli always knew that someday he’d hike the A.T. all the way to Maine, but when a horrific accident proves to be beyond his coping strategies, that hike becomes a reality far sooner than he ever expected. The landscape and the solitude are comforting, but new discomforts and dangers do little to replace the grief he thought he could escape. He does gain solace from an old journal kept by his grandfather and passed down to Eli; the trials his ancestors endured, like losing their farm, allow Eli to glimpse a larger world of both pain and meaning. The friends he finds on the trail also help him see beyond his current morass. Debut novelist Mimms weds hiking know-how to the drama of grief with a steady touch and pitch-perfect tone. Journal entries from Eli’s grandfather’s time provide a pleasing contrast in structure, and Eli’s spooky musings on the Raven Mocker and U`tlun’ta add a taste of otherworldly flavor. Only the ending of the book feels too abrupt and coincidental to be well-earned.
A compelling story of one teenager, one trail, a few friends and many ghosts. (Adventure. 10-13)