SUMMER HAWK

From Savage (Under a Different Sky, 1997, etc.), a slow, clichÇd novel about a smart, sophisticated, ambitious teenager stuck in a small town while her future looms large; the rescue of hawks is the excuse for some overwrought allusions to flight and freedom. Taylor has just finished the ninth grade in Hunter’s Gap. She doesn’t fit in with the stereotypical small-minded, small-town types, and she misses her (also stereotypical) workaholic mother, who spends most of her time in the city or traveling to conferences. Taylor feels that her sensitive-artist (another stereotype) father is the only person who understands her until she connects with the class outcast, Rail, and Rhiannon, the “hawk lady” who runs the local raptor rescue center. Predictably, Taylor starts to see the real people behind the stereotypes, and trades in her future at the upscale Porter Phelps school for an internship at the local paper. Along the way, her father sleeps with Rhiannon, who sees in Taylor her daughter, who died; Taylor first worships Rhiannon (“I created a secret world in my heart—a high, windy hill where I stood side by side with the hawk lady, our long hair blowing until it mingled together”), then despises her; Taylor also has mixed feelings for Rail, the hick with the heart of gold. Hard-edged Rhiannon’s supposed charisma never comes through, and it’s easy to dislike Taylor, who, between bouts of self-pity, snaps at the very decent Rail in every chapter. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-91163-X

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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TIES THAT BIND, TIES THAT BREAK

Namioka (Den of the White Fox, 1997, etc.) offers readers a glimpse of the ritual of foot-binding, and a surprising heroine whose life is determined by her rejection of that ritual. Ailin is spirited—her family thinks uncontrollable—even at age five, in her family’s compound in China in 1911, she doesn’t want to have her feet bound, especially after Second Sister shows Ailin her own bound feet and tells her how much it hurts. Ailin can see already how bound feet will restrict her movements, and prevent her from running and playing. Her father takes the revolutionary step of permitting her to leave her feet alone, even though the family of Ailin’s betrothed then breaks off the engagement. Ailin goes to the missionary school and learns English; when her father dies and her uncle cuts off funds for tuition, she leaves her family to become a nanny for an American missionary couple’s children. She learns all the daily household chores that were done by servants in her own home, and finds herself, painfully, cut off from her own culture and separate from the Americans. At 16, she decides to go with the missionaries when they return to San Francisco, where she meets and marries another Chinese immigrant who starts his own restaurant. The metaphor of things bound and unbound is a ribbon winding through this vivid narrative; the story moves swiftly, while Ailin is a brave and engaging heroine whose difficult choices reflect her time and her gender. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32666-1

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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