WOODSONG

A three-time Newbery Honor winner tells—in a memoir that is even more immediate and compelling than his novels—about his intimate relationship with Minnesota's north woods and the dog team he trained for Alaska's Iditarod.

Beginning with a violent natural incident (a doe killed by wolves) that spurred his own conversion from hunter and trapper to observing habitant of the forest, Paulsen draws a vivid picture of his wilderness life—where bears routinely help themselves to his dog's food and where his fiercely protective bantam adopts a nestful of quail chicks and then terrorizes the household for an entire summer. The incidents he recounts are marvelous. Built of concrete detail, often with a subtext of irony or mystery, they unite in a modest but telling self-portrait of a man who has learned by opening himself to nature—not to idyllic, sentimental nature, but to the harsh, bloody, life-giving real thing. Like nature, the dogs are uncontrollable: independent, wildly individual, yet loyal and dedicated to their task. It takes extraordinary flexibility, courage, and generosity to accept their difficult strengths and make them a team: Paulsen sees humor in their mischief and has learned (almost at the cost of his life) that rigid discipline is irrelevant, even dangerous. This wonderful book concludes with a mesmerizing, day-by-day account of Paulsen's first Iditarod—a thrilling, dangerous journey he was so reluctant to end that he almost turned back within sight of his goal. lt's almost as hard to come to the end of his journal.

This may be Paulsen's best book yet: it should delight and enthrall almost any reader.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-02-770221-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1990

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CLOSE-UP

“On the basis of their own words” Dudevszky wrote first-person accounts of the sad ordeals of several teenagers who are unable to reside with their families. There are reasons—often a list of reasons—the teenagers no longer live at home, and none of them are good. Marco’s father molested his sisters, Brenda’s parents were addicted to alcohol and drugs, Manuela’s father beat her, and Leyla had to escape from Iran for political reasons. The message that trumpets through is how desperately these youngsters, most living in foster or group homes in the Netherlands, need attention and affection. Jerry, a youth home resident, says, “I don’t get homesick at all. I don’t see my parents that much. They don’t come on my birthday. Well, so they don’t. I’m not going to lose sleep over it.” Maarten, 16, who was moved six times in four years, says, “I often felt lonely. Every time you go to another place you’re all on your own again.” Although the book is worthy, the tone is understandably depressing, and after a while the individual stories lose their bite. Readers who have the pertinacity to get through it will root for Asena and her “number-one wish,” which is “to become happy.” (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1999

ISBN: 1-886910-40-5

Page Count: 125

Publisher: Lemniscaat/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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This drama skillfully portrays the costs of emotional dysfunction but delivers a rambling plot.

GOODBYE FOREVER, VICKY

A young man in Guyana becomes caught between two women he professes to love in this debut novel. 

Vicky grows up in Port Mourant, Guyana, doubly stymied by the burden of poverty and a limitlessly irresponsible father, who finally abandons him when he’s 7 years old. Vicky eventually becomes a teacher and, at 18, he falls deeply in love with one of his students, 16-year-old Julie. She’s slow to reciprocate his affections, and convinced Julie doesn’t love him, Vicky pursues other women only to encounter romantic failure and humiliation. Julie finally requites his feelings, and the two become such a devoted couple that Vicky’s mother frets anxiously that Julie will become a distraction from his studies. Vicky is accepted into a university in Georgetown and leaves Julie behind, but they passionately pledge their lives to each other, and plan to reunite once he graduates. But their future is threatened when Vicky begins a sexual relationship with another woman, Seema, who becomes pregnant as a result. Rajrup’s exhaustingly melodramatic tale is largely a chronicle of Vicky’s pathological combination of mendacity and indecision: Sometimes he pines to be free of Seema and longs to return to Julie. The author keenly depicts the wages of emotional dysfunction—Vicky, Seema, and Julie all suffer lifelong consequences from poorly rendered decisions. At one point, Vicky tries to arrange a secret wedding ceremony that will somehow elude Julie’s detection. And even after he’s legally wed, he still declares his undying commitment to Julie in histrionically poetical terms. His marriage to Seema is predictably disastrous, and Vicky seems permanently fixated on the possibility of a reunion with his first love. The author offers some rich psychological details, but the plot shiftlessly wanders from scene to scene, as if intended to mirror the vacillation of its protagonist. Furthermore, the prose is by turns awkwardly mechanical and cloyingly sentimental: “It took me a week of begging to assuage her bitter anger, and one week and four days to implore her to accede to my request for a well-planned date to the cinema.”

This drama skillfully portrays the costs of emotional dysfunction but delivers a rambling plot.

Pub Date: March 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5462-2998-8

Page Count: 366

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2018

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