Halfway to the Sky [NOOK Book]

Overview

Twelve-year-old Dani is running away from home, or what’s left of home anyway. Her older brother, who had muscular dystrophy, died a few months ago. Then her father left and her parents got divorced. Now home is just Dani and her sad, silent mother, and Dani’s got to get away. She plans to do something amazing, and go where her parents will never find her: she’s going to hike the whole Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. The trail is a ...
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Halfway to the Sky

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Overview

Twelve-year-old Dani is running away from home, or what’s left of home anyway. Her older brother, who had muscular dystrophy, died a few months ago. Then her father left and her parents got divorced. Now home is just Dani and her sad, silent mother, and Dani’s got to get away. She plans to do something amazing, and go where her parents will never find her: she’s going to hike the whole Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. The trail is a legend in her family, the place where her parents met, fell in love, and got married 14 years before.

Unfortunately for her master plan, her mother doesn’t have much trouble figuring out where Dani’s gone. Now it’s the two of them, hiking for as long as Dani can manage to persuade her mother to keep going. But Dani’s got an even longer emotional journey to make—and it’s one she and her mom need to make together.

From the Hardcover edition.

After her brother dies and her parents get a divorce, twelve-year-old Katahdin sets out to hike the whole Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine on her own.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Twelve-year-old Dani sets off to hike the Appalachian Trail by herself, upset at her brother's death six months earlier, followed by her parents' divorce. But not long after she has left the trailhead, Dani's mother finds her. The mother, who trekked the 2,167-mile trail years earlier, gets past her anger and joins her daughter for an extended hike. Unusual in its topic of a mother and daughter sharing an athletic experience, this novel gives readers a complex, interesting parent—a rare find in children's novels. —Kathleen Odean
Kathleen Odean
Twelve-year-old Dani sets off to hike the Appalachian Trail by herself, upset at her brother's death six months earlier, followed by her parents' divorce. But not long after she has left the trailhead, Dani's mother finds her. The mother, who trekked the 2,167-mile trail years earlier, gets past her anger and joins her daughter for an extended hike. Unusual in its topic of a mother and daughter sharing an athletic experience, this novel gives readers a complex, interesting parent—a rare find in children's novels.
Children's Literature
Twelve-year-old Dani runs away from home after her brother dies from muscular dystrophy and her father leaves the family. She plans to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Her parents met and were married on the Trail; her brother Springer was named after the starting point, she was called Katahdin, after the end point. But her mother catches up to her in two days. Dani convinces her mother to hike with her. They meet interesting people along the way, notably a woman "thru-hiker" (one who tackles the entire 2167 miles,) a cancer survivor. Every stride carries Dani further from her father, his new wife, and the baby boy they are expecting, but closer to the truth she has been avoiding. She takes the high road, assigning blame to her parents for not being there for her. Then she catches up to a young man she met on the first day, who leaves cryptic notes for her in the shelter registers. When he doesn't remember her, Dani tumbles off a mountain of emotion. She realizes Springer's death was no one's fault. A Trail saying goes, "Hike your own hike." Everyone's expectations and experiences are different. Dani faces her own immortality, then decides life is worth every step. A wise and thoughtful book. 2002, Delacorte,
— Candice Ransom
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Grieving over the recent death of her 13-year-old brother from muscular dystrophy and the breakup of her parents' marriage that immediately followed, 12-year-old Dani runs away from home, intending to hike the Appalachian Trail, where her parents met 14 years earlier. Her mother tracks her down in the middle of her second night away, and Dani convinces her to accompany her-first for a few nights, then for a week, and finally for just over two months. Along with discoveries about the natural world, Dani also finds the capacity to hike and to heal emotionally. She improves her relationship with her mother and is able to return home with a changed attitude that will allow her to mend fractured friendships. This is a fairly standard coming-of-age novel with the added benefit of Dani's mother also growing and healing during their time together on the trail. Although they must return home and resume their normal lives, they vow to continue their hike in sections until they complete their goal, which ends the novel on a positive note and hints at a continued closeness between mother and daughter. The book's setting provides a unique backdrop to their mutual journeys of discovery, and an afterword supplies an abbreviated history of the 2163-mile Appalachian Trail.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307529718
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 12/18/2008
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 327,422
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is the author of Weaver’s Daughter, a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

March 1 3326 Holston Drive, Bristol, Tennessee Miles hiked today: 0 (so far) Total miles hiked on the Appalachian Trail: 0 Weather: bright, mid-50s, very windy

I went through my pack one more time.

Sleeping bag, pad, tent, stove. Fuel, food bag, toothbrush, towel. Extra shorts, shirt, tights, fleece jacket, one each. Extra socks, sock liners, underwear, two pairs each. Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap. Maps for the first leg. One small notebook, a few handwritten lists, and a photograph of Springer.

I tightened the drawstring and lifted the pack carefully onto my shoulders, then fastened it around my hips and across my chest. Fully loaded, the pack weighed 33 pounds on the bathroom scale. Fully dressed, I weighed 115. That was counting my boots, which were nearly a pound apiece.

It was a Wednesday. I should have been in school. I looked around my room. Pink walls--we painted them when I was seven. Flowered bedspread, the bed neatly made. My soccer ball, the only thing I wished I could take but couldn't, and the trophies and the posters and the dolls. Everything painfully neat, dusted, wiped clean. I looked around and thought, It should not be so easy for a twelve-year-old girl to run away.

But it was.

I clicked the door shut and went across the darkened hall and down the stairs. Sometimes our house seemed like a museum, full of stuff but not a place where people actually lived. The kitchen was antiseptic. Mom scrubbed when she couldn't sleep at night. Lately that was most of the time.

I paused in the foyer and hit the Record button on the answering machine. I cleared my throat. "Look, Mom, it's me, Dani," I said, in what I hoped was the right sort of voice, half angry, half sulky. I'd picked a fight with her the night before on purpose to give me an excuse to sound like this. As usual, she had left the house before I woke. She worked strange hours these days, and not because she had to, either. Who ever heard of starting at seven in the morning at a bank? "I don't want to live with you anymore, okay?" I said to the machine. Sulk, sulk. "I'm going to Dad's for a while. Maybe forever. So don't call. Bye."

I hit the button again, and the little light started blinking. Messages--1. Two nights before, Dad had told me he couldn't see me this weekend because he was going out of town. So when Mom did get around to calling, he wouldn't be there. I figured I'd have a whole week to get away. I didn't think they'd guess where I'd gone. The Appalachian Trail was a legend in our family, but my parents had quit telling the stories about it long ago.

I went to the front door, opened it, hesitated, went back. Springer's room on the first floor was dark and stale-smelling, the curtains drawn, the hospital bed shrouded with a plain white sheet. Clean vacuuming lines ran up and down the carpet, untouched. No one had stepped inside for weeks. I didn't either. "Hey," I said softly, "I'm leaving now. I'm doing this for you, too. Okay?"

It shouldn't be easy for a thirteen-year-old boy to die. But it was.

I locked the door on my way out.

The Greyhound depot was in the middle of town, a twenty- minute walk away. I had already bought my ticket to Gainesville, Georgia, and no one asked me questions. I'd thought they would. I'd thought someone would wonder why I was alone, why I was carrying such a heavy pack, why I wasn't in school. There were six other passengers at the Bristol stop. None of them paid any attention to me.

In a car it would have taken less than five hours to reach Gainesville, but on the bus it took all day. We stopped, and stopped, and stopped again. Once, I got off to pee in a dingy station, but other than that I stayed put with my pack wedged in the space in front my knees. When I got hungry, I ate some of my raisins. I didn't get thirsty or tired. I looked out the window and tried not to think about anything.

The Appalachian Trail runs 2,167 miles from Georgia to Maine, mostly along the ridgelines of mountains. It's a high-up kind of place. It ends on the top of Mount Katahdin, in Maine, and begins on the top of Springer Mountain, in Georgia. Each year about three thousand people try to hike the whole Trail from beginning to end in a single year. The ones who make it are called thru-hikers.

My parents had been thru-hikers fourteen years earlier. They met for the first time their first night on the Trail. They got married partway through, and by the time they reached Katahdin, Mom was pregnant with my brother. They named him Springer because he was part of the Trail. When I was born a year later, they named me Katahdin, to match, but everyone calls me Dani. When Springer couldn't walk anymore, my parents put their memories of the Trail away.

Dad still hiked. He went away by himself for long days every few months in decent weather. "I need an escape, Dani," he'd tell me. "I need to be alone." He bought me hiking boots and took me for walks in the park near our house. He taught me some things, but not much.

Mom never hiked. She never did anything but go to work, take care of Springer, and run three miles every morning while I made breakfast by myself.

Springer, Springer. I found myself tracing his name on the grimy window with my finger. An old woman sitting across the aisle glared at me. I wiped the window with my sleeve and folded my hands.

There's a trick to not thinking, and I'd learned it.

From Gainesville I took a taxi, the way the guidebooks suggested. The driver tried to talk to me, but I shut my eyes and he left me alone. When I opened them, I saw a strange ugly forest, hills that looked different from the ones we had at home. It was evening, and I was hungry.

"Here we go," the cabbie said. He swung right and stopped. A big wooden sign read amicalola falls state park. "I'm not going through the gates," he said. "Have to pay a park fee if I do. Drop you here, okay, sis?"

"Okay." I paid him, dragged my pack out of the backseat, and watched him drive away. I looked at the park entrance again. I was here. The books all say it takes five million steps to walk the entire Appalachian Trail. I took my first one, breathed deep, and smiled.

March 1 Amicalola Falls State Park Shelter (Georgia) Miles hiked today: 1 Total miles hiked on the Appalachian Trail: 0 Weather: clear, getting cold

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2011

    Enjoyed reliving the trail

    My son (age 12)and I have hiked 400 miles of the Appalachian trail. We enjoyed this book very much. As we read it together, we could relate to many things: bad weather, feeling dirty and achy, the wonderful people you meet, sleeping in shelters, the feelings of accomplishment, and the joy of the outdoors. If you have an interest in hiking, this book gives you a great idea of what life on the trail would be like.

    I can see how some of these details would make the book slow reading for those with no interest in learning about the trail. There are definately two parts to this book; Dani's trail experience and Dani's family struggles. It is interesting to read as the author blends these two storylines together.

    I do not agree with those that think Dani is a brat. I lost a family member to an illness in middle school. It is natural to feel neglected and question your role in the family. I think Dani's reactions and bouts of sassiness are realistic. The sassy comments are the author's way of letting the reader know the characters feelings. Spend days on the trail. You have plenty of time to think. Dani had a plan to get away from her life, and instead ended up having a chance to vent to the people she was mad at.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Book!!!

    I really loved this book. I read it when I was in 4th grade, so that gives you an age range. I really loved the story and the writing. I was interested in the main character because she was so different from myself. She is outgoing, and I can relate to how she feels throughout the book. Read this book, it is a great read!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    Very interesting book

    My 10 year old daughter and I read this as our own book club read. I found it very interesting. A twelve year old girl researches and plans a thru hike. She not only plans what to bring but works to save money for the trip. She also starts hiking every day to prepare for a 6 month hike.<BR/>I would not in any way call this character bratty she is a child who has been forced to grow up fast and deal with adult emotions. The description of the trail was very interesting as were the people you would meet along the way. The various character's reactions to the different situations are surprising at times. This is a great book!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2006

    Ashley says

    it's was readable!!!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    This book was a really good book. If you like book that are sad

    This book was a really good book. If you like book that are sad but happy, and mothers spending time with each other, then you need to read this book. In the book there was a girl and her mother and they went to Maine. The main character was named Dani and she wanted to go to Maine where her mother and father met. So Dani ran away to Maine but her mother found her and took her back home. Then she asked her mother if they both could go together. I think that this book was a good book because it had a lot of happy moments. Most of the moments were when Dani and her mother were on their way to Maine. When they were on their way to Maine they stopped at a lot of places to get supplies. Inconcluion, this book would have been better if the book had more details about her life before her brother died or before she took a trip to Maine, or if her father was there for her more often. All and all, for a fourteen year girl, this book was a good book. It was a good book because it had a lot of goodness in it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2012

    Outstanding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Five stars. Must read!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    Highly Recommended- Read it!

    It was one of the best books I've ever read. It inspired me and my friends to hike the Appalachian trail and I just got back from Mount Katahdin. It's a good book for kids and adults!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2011

    Absolutely Amazing!

    I love this book! It is a great and easy read! Ive read it so many times and its still good every time! I recommend this book!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2007

    hmmm...

    this book could have been better. the main character was sort of bratty even given the situation. however the idea was pretty good and unique so it does have potential.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    worst book ever!

    this book is horrible. the charactrer is bratty. the story is repetitive and frusterating to read. i do not recomend this book to anyone.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2003

    Worthy of Time?

    I really must be honest. I did not enjoy this book very much. I found it very depressing and the characters were...not pleasant. The main chracter, though I understand she was angry inside, I thought was a brat. I think that the lessins in this book are omportant to learn, as is the message, but I did not like it. If you need help with emotions, read this, but be ready, it is a downer.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Kids hate it

    My child read the book and hated it. I loved it as a younger kid because I loved to be indoors, but my child plays outdoors every day.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2012

    Good

    Great book-even know Im on page 50

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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