Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots

4.1 32
by Abby McDonald

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Can a boy-hungry Jersey girl survive the wilds of Canada with her eco-identity intact? A witty new YA novel from the author of SOPHOMORE SWITCH.

Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie

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Can a boy-hungry Jersey girl survive the wilds of Canada with her eco-identity intact? A witty new YA novel from the author of SOPHOMORE SWITCH.

Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Abby McDonald, the author of this winner of the 2011 Green Earth Book Award for YA Fiction, handles environmental themes with a sure, light touch. Jenna, 17, is a member of the combative Green Teens at her New Jersey high school. But a summer-long visit to her Canadian godmother finds the girl learning so much about the natural world and environmental issues that she begins to amend her previous radical stance. When her best friend from home shows up and criticizes Jenna's new friends and lifestyle, Jenna knows she must stand up for what she truly believes—even though it means being cut off from Green Teens upon her return to New Jersey. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
Publishers Weekly
The summer before her senior year, Jenna, a spirited environmentalist, leaves New Jersey for British Columbia to live with her godmother, Susie, and immerse herself in the outdoorsy life she idealizes. She assumes that her “Green Teen” initiative will be well-received and is disappointed to be mocked by local boys and shunned by Susie's goth stepdaughter (“I wonder if all my talk of sustainable eco-friendliness is making me sound like a good Green Teen activist—or just a spoiled brat”). Meanwhile, her best friend is becoming an eco extremist; her parents are edging toward divorce; and local stud Reeve pressures her to keep their romance a secret. Despite her environmental passion, Jenna is believably insecure, but slowly gets her footing, making inroads with her friends and taking inspiration from The Modern Mountain Man's Survival Guide (“Nature ain't ever going to change for you—you've got to make your plans around what you can't control”). McDonald (Sophomore Switch) composes a fun summer read, closely examining the conflict between sticking to one's beliefs and learning the art of compromise. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Lauri Berkenkamp
Jenna is a seventeen-year-old Green Teen from the suburbs of New Jersey who plans to spend the summer working on environmental campaigns with her best friend, Olivia. Then her parents inform her that they have rented out their house, that her dad is going to Sweden and her mother to Florida, and Jenna opts to spend her vacation with her hippy godmother, Susie, in the wilds of British Columbia. When she arrives in Stillwater, Jenna discovers that while the countryside is gorgeous, the people are not exactly what she expected. Susie is newly married, and her husband's angry, goth daughter Fiona is at the house, too. In addition, the house is a potential bed and breakfast that is under major construction. Jenna meets local boys Ethan, Grady and (very hot) Reeve, but accidentally alienates them from the start by lecturing them about their lack of environmental awareness. Feeling friendless and lonely, Jenna is browsing at a used bookstore when she finds an old survival guide and decides to use its principles to get through the summer. Over the course of the summer, Jenna slowly builds friendships with Ethan, Fiona, and Grady; she also falls in love with Reeve. And when Olivia shows up unexpectedly, spouting hard-line eco-warrior rhetoric that threatens to wreck everything Jenna and her friends have worked for all summer, Jenna comes to the realization that compromise is necessary—in friendship, romance, and life. This book follows the usual teen romance formula, but a couple of good plot twists (including the revelation that Ethan is gay and the surprising arrival of Olivia, who throws everything into chaos) make this book an unexpectedly fun read. Recommended for fans of young adult relationship novels. Reviewer: Lauri Berkenkamp
VOYA - Victoria Vogel
The plot may be somewhat formulaic, but the enjoyable characters in this teen romance make a delightful novel. Jenna is a teenager who is passionate about the earth. She shares this passion with her best friend, Olivia, along with membership in Green Teens, her high school's version of Greenpeace. When her mother claims that she is taking her to spend the summer in Orlando to visit her grandmother while her father is away on business, Jenna suspects that a divorce is on the horizon. Rather than go with her, she convinces her that a better idea would be to allow her to visit her godmother, Susie, in the wilds of Stillwater, British Columbia. Stillwater is a small Canadian town where there isn't much to do during the summer but enjoy nature. Susie is desperately trying to transform an old home into a bed and breakfast and getting no help from her resentful Goth stepdaughter, Fiona, who is always in a bad mood. Then Jenna meets the rugged Johnson boys. While they are attractive in an outdoorsy way, they are also fond of ribbing her about her inability to cope in the wild. Jenna struggles with remaining committed to her environmental values without coming across as clueless when she can barely survive in the woods of Canada. She also struggles with missing Olivia who is spending the summer with her boyfriend in upstate New York. Teen girls will surely enjoy the characters in this light and funny romance. Fiona is the most enjoyable character—her bad moods and sarcasm add a lot of humor to the story. The romance between Jenna and Reeve Johnson is sweet, and readers will certainly enjoy it. Teens will also appreciate the transformation that Jenna undergoes as she begins to gain some perspective on her values and her friendships. Overall this is not an essential purchase. Susan Juby's Alice, I Think series (Thistledown Press) does a better job of portraying life in a small Canadian town. However, readers looking for a light beach romance will not be disappointed. Reviewer: Victoria Vogel
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Jenna, a member of the Green Teen club, plans to spend the summer at home in New Jersey working on environmental campaigns with her best friend, Olivia. When her parents change the plans, she finds herself on a bus heading to the wilds of Canada to live with her godmother, Susie. She inadvertently makes a poor first impression when she meets Susie's stepdaughter, Fiona, and her friends Ethan, Grady, and Reeve by assuming that they will also be interested in environmental issues. Over the course of the summer, the teens become friends and, after a run-in with some of the local wildlife, Reeve becomes Jenna's love interest. Jenna learns the difference between her brand of environmentalism and that practiced by real outdoorsmen, particularly when Olivia, now an eco-warrior after her summer experiences, shows up unexpectedly. Stephanie Wolfe adequately voices most of the characters in Abby MacDonald's novel (Candlewick, 2010), although Olivia sounds more like a Valley Girl than a teen from the suburbs of New Jersey. She does capture Jenna's emotions, especially her angst, as the teen deals with what she believes is her parents' impending divorce and the on-again, off-again relationship with Reeve.—Ann Brownson, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 5.54(h) x 0.88(d)
HL740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"Re- use! Re- duce! Re- cycle!"

"Don't get mad; get green!"

"Save a planet, save a tree, in the end it'll save you and me!"

The chants filter through the open windows at the end of final period, drifting on the warm breeze. Ms. Lockhart pauses, walking over to check out the noise, while the restof the class cranks their necks around and strains to get a better look.

I just cram my books into my bag and wait, poised on the edge of my seat.

The second the final bell rings, I spring into action: racing to my locker, I grab some last- minute supplies and dash out of the building. I can see the Green Teens already, marching in a circle on a plot of land at the end of the field, past the graffitied bleachers and batting cages.

The school board is proposing to sell it off to developers; already there are tire tracks cut into the muddy ground and the beginnings of a construction site taking shape. But not for long.

"You didn't wait!" I arrive, breathless, at the edge of the grass. I pause for a moment to kick off my ballet flats - not exactly off- road shoes - and yank on a pair of flower- print plastic boots.

"I know, I know," Olivia apologizes, skidding down the dirt bank. Her own matching boots are already filthy from the mud. She grabs a couple of my bags and eagerly rifles through them. "Did you bring the banners? And sign- up sheets?"

"Check and check!" I pull a Greenpeace shirt over my regular tank top. "And cookies, too."

"Perfect!" She grins. She's braided blue yarn through her hair for the occasion, the same shade as the paint on the signs we were up half the night making. "Then we're all set."

We take our places in the middle of the group, unfurling a ten- foot- long banner and joining in the chant. After six major demonstrations, and our weekly Saturday morning session handing out flyers at the Fairview Mall, Olivia and I are protest experts. We need to be. With the old Green Teen leadership graduating, it's up to us to keep the spirit of environmentalism alive and well at North Ridge High.

"Louder, everyone! We need them to hear us all the way to the parking lot!" Olivia yells through the megaphone we, ahem, "borrowed" from the AV room. Volume and visibility - those are the keys to a good protest, I've learned. And plenty of snacks. One time we tried an all-day sit- in outside City Hall to demand better recycling services, but I forgot to bring provisions; the group lasted exactly two hours before the aroma wafting from a nearby pretzel van became too much to bear. Needless to say, we still have to trek out to Maplewood with our paper and plastics, and I haven't forgotten the Fig Newtons since.

Sure enough, after a few minutes a curious crowd starts to gather, drawn by the shouting and - yes - the lure of those cookies. A group from my study hall looks around with interest, and a handful of cheerleaders even stop to ask what's going on.

"Never underestimate the power of free food." I grin, giving Olivia a high- five with my free hand. "What do you say, time for phase two?"

"Do it." She nods.

Passing my corner of the banner over to an eager freshman recruit, I retrieve the stack of clipboards and begin circulating with sign- up sheets.

"What is it this time?" A guy from my econ class is loitering suspiciously near the crowd. His collar is popped, and he's spent the last semester idly kicking the back of my seat, but every signature counts. "Saving the whales?"

"That was last week." I keep smiling at him: my infallible "you know you want to help me out" grin. "Right now we're trying to stop them from building on the field."

"Are they going to put up a mini- mall?" He looks hopeful. "Man, a Pizza Hut would be awesome. Or a Chili's!"

"No," I answer, thankful. I'm all for a challenge, but convincing a thousand teenagers to pick the joys of nature over double pepperoni with extra cheese? That might be out of my league. I move closer, pen outstretched. "But do you really want to have this field paved over? Bit by bit, we're losing all the natural habitats and green space in the area, and we won't be able to get them back. What about the local ecosystem, and wildlife, and -?"

"Whoa." He backs off, looking alarmed. "Relax, Jenna!"

It's obvious I'm not going to win this one with logic and sense, so I decide to try a new tactic. "It's OK - you don't have to sign now," I coo. "I mean, we've got two whole weeks of classes before summer vacation. We can talk through all the issues together, in tons more detail. I could even ask Mrs. Paluski to pair us up!" I beam as though I'm just thrilled by the thought of describing every detail of our cause. "I'm sure I'll convince you. Eventually."

He practically snatches the pen out of my hand to sign.

"Aw, thanks." I grin, taking back the clipboard to check my progress. Fifty- six down, just another thousand to go. . . .

The crowd around us has swelled to about a hundred students by the time I see Principal Turner huffing his way across the field. I intercept him at the edge of the grass with my best innocent look. "Anything I can help you with?"

"Jenna Levison." He eyes the dirt and puddles suspiciously. "To what do we owe this particular show of -"

"Community spirit?" I finish hopefully. "Environmental awareness?"

"Disruption and disobedience." He folds his arms and glares at me. As if they can sense the battle to come, the crowd behind me turns to watch, while the rest of the Green Teens pause their chanting.

I gulp.

No matter how many angry officials I face, I still feel like I'm doing something wrong (OK - something really wrong). But I can't back down.

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Meet the Author

Abby McDonald, a recent graduate of Oxford University, made her authorial debut with the critically acclaimed novel SOPHOMORE SWITCH. She lives in London.

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