HALFWAY TO THE SKY by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


Age Range: 10 - 15
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Hiking the Appalachian Trail forms the groundwork for this emotionally taut story about Dani, 12, who is trying to escape from the misery of the traumatic death of her 13-year-old brother from muscular dystrophy, her parents’ divorce, and her father’s remarriage and pregnant new wife. The Trail is more than symbolic to the family, as her parents met while hiking it and named both children for sites: Katahdin, a mountain in Maine, is Dani’s real name, and Springer, a mountain in Georgia, was her brother’s. The journal format effectively conveys the immediacy of the daily challenges as Dani’s entries list location, miles walked, and weather. For six months, she trained to thru-walk the entire 2,163 miles from Georgia to Maine, but on day three, her mother catches up with her. Since she hadn’t told either parent where she was going, both are furious upon figuring out where she is. Mother and resentful daughter make concessions and set off to hike together for several weeks. The more miles they cover, the more painful memories are confessed as the reader learns about the impact of Springer’s death. Though arrangements are conveniently worked out for Dani’s mother to leave work to hike, the strength of the story is in the depiction of Springer—how he tied the family together, and how his death split them apart. The realistic ending is one of renewal and moving on. Teenagers will readily relate to the angst and anger and be intrigued by the details about the Trail itself. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-385-72960-X
Page count: 164pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2002
Note: Bradley is a freelance contributor to Kirkus.


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