A white teenage girl finds acclimating to the Montana wilderness difficult after her life in England until she has a life-changing experience with a grizzly bear.
Darcy is recovering from pneumonia, contracted after she arrived in Montana from England with her family, and feels poorly. Her parents and her older brother (all also white) are solicitous about her health, but Darcy is steadfastly weak and just as steadfastly self-pitying and self-absorbed in her first-person, present-tense narration. Ostensibly because she is so ill, but remarkably conveniently, Darcy often has out-of-body experiences, and such is the case when she, collapsing from too much snowshoeing, crawls into a cave and cuddles with a wounded, hibernating grizzly bear. The connection between the bear and Darcy (readers are privy to the bear’s wincingly anthropomorphized thoughts in separate paragraphs) is developed as Darcy decides she needs to feed the bear and begins to do so in secret. Implausibilities throughout test readers’ trust. (Can an invalid girl really hoist a dead elk onto a sled? Wouldn’t a cabin so remote kids snowmobile to school have a generator?) While the wrongness of habituating wild bears to people is emphasized, the full inevitable tragedy is trivialized into humancentric empowerment.
A romanticized and often implausible story of human and wild that doesn’t do justice to either. (Fiction. 12-14)