Out of the Wilderness

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Overview

Fifteen-year-old Josh tries to endure living in the Alaskan wilderness with his father and half-brother Nathan, but Nathan's uncompromising reverence for nature and its wild creatures causes difficulties that reinforce Josh's determination to return to city life.

Fifteen-year-old Josh tries to endure living in the Alaskan wilderness with his father and half-brother Nathan, but Nathan's uncompromising reverence for nature and its wild creatures causes difficulties ...

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Out of the Wilderness

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Overview

Fifteen-year-old Josh tries to endure living in the Alaskan wilderness with his father and half-brother Nathan, but Nathan's uncompromising reverence for nature and its wild creatures causes difficulties that reinforce Josh's determination to return to city life.

Fifteen-year-old Josh tries to endure living in the Alaskan wilderness with his father and half-brother Nathan, but Nathan's uncompromising reverence for nature and its wild creatures causes difficulties that reinforce Josh's determination to return to city life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Civilization might look pretty good to readers after they share Josh's experience living in the Alaskan wilderness inside a 10 x 20 cabin with his father and older half-brother, Nathan. Josh, who would be a freshman in high school, longs for the old days when he played on a hockey team and was surrounded by friends. Josh's father, however, is content to stay in the wilderness making up lost time with his older son. Meanwhile, Nathan, an avid nature enthusiast, strives to become self-sufficient by living without "all things manmade." The risks he takes outdoors on his own nearly cost him his life. In this chilling winter's tale, Vanasse A Distant Enemy covers the three classic conflicts: man against nature, man against man and man against himself; but events overshadow the characterizations, leaving her message muddied and no resolution for Josh and his family. Those who find Nathan's extremism as annoying as his father's insensitivity to his younger son's needs may still appreciate the beauty and danger of the landscape. Yet the irony, that Nathan feels a "kinship" with the very bear who nearly destroy him, is diluted here. For all of Nathan's obsession with his surroundings and Josh's remark that "the wilderness would be with him always," young nature lovers are rarely allowed to experience the scenic grandeur for themselves, and must rely instead on dialogue to report what so captivates the brothers. Ages 10-14. Mar.
Children's Literature - Christopher Moning
Josh and his father have traveled across country to track down Josh's older half-brother, Nathan. But Nathan is determined to challenge the elements by living alone in the wilds of Alaska. Josh's father is just as determined to stay close to keep an eye on him. They settle in separate cabins, isolated from the rest of the world. Josh believes Nathan is going way overboard in his commitment to live naturally: His older brother refuses to trap or hunt animals, and would rather endanger his family than shoot at a charging bear. Meanwhile, Josh longs to return to a normal life, a life with fast food and electricity and friends. When a new family begins to spend weekends near Josh's cabin, Josh is amazed to see their 14-year-old daughter side with Nathan's extreme beliefs. On a frigid March afternoon a tragic accident occurs, which leads everyone to be more tolerant of opposing views.
VOYA - Richard Gercken
Set in Alaska, this story of half-brothers rarely comes to life. After a smashing opening in which Josh, Nathan, and their father encounter a bear, the few events that follow are seldom interesting enough to do more than express the brothers' opposing ideas about wilderness living. Josh wants to leave his wilderness home for what he considers a normal life: school, telephone, television, sports, and girls. Josh is jealous of Nathan, who he feels has most of their father's interest and affection. Family tension helps make Josh even more antagonistic to Nathan's appreciation of animals and nature. The issues are evident, but the narrative muddles them. Josh, the point-of-view character, lies to his father and his brother and instructs the youngest character in the book to lie to his older sister. Why should the reader believe this guy? And the harsh wilderness realities, of such thematic importance to the novel, are resolved through predictable melodrama. If the author wanted to make the point that Nathan, who loves wilderness, is ignorant about it, that implication is not clear enough for this book's intended young audience. The confused focus is surprising given the author's blatant didacticism otherwise: "You act like shelters made from natural elements like snow and earth are inferior to those that are manmade." Do young people really talk to each other like that? Or like this: "We sat and had some herbal tea with him before he left"? Throughout the novel the writing, through fifteen-year-old Josh's eyes, is too observant and appreciative of the wilderness on the part of a character supposedly devoid of interest in it. VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P M J S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12).
The ALAN Review - M. Jean Greenlaw
Two years of hard scrabble living in the Alaskan wilderness leaves fifteen-year-old Josh longing for a return to civilization and friends. He and his father have followed Nathan, Josh's older half brother, on his quest to live in harmony with nature. Nathan has become very eccentric and puts them all in danger, however. This story succeeds on several levels. The characters are believable and the reader appreciates the interwoven struggles Josh faces: physical survival, estrangement from his brother, the realization that Nathan will always be the first priority of his father, and the decision to make a life for himself. The ending is excellent for the fact that everything is not tied up in a neat bundle, but the reader has hope for Josh's future. On another level, the beauty and danger of the Alaskan wilderness is lined in lyrical prose that rises above most tales of adventure. There is something for everyone and teachers will find this to be a good read-aloud choice.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-An authentic picture of modern Alaskan life through the eyes of a teenage protagonist. Fifteen-year-old Josh finds himself living the life of a trapper with his father, the veteran of two failed marriages in the Lower 48, and his older half-brother, Nathan, who holds idealized views of nature. As his father attempts to create an all-male wilderness family with his two sons, who have grown up separately, and as Nathan slips closer and closer to danger with his obsession for living at one with wild bears, Josh longs to attend high school with other kids and play on the hockey team. He is torn between his loyalty to his father and his resentment of Nathan's increasingly aloof and extreme behavior. Vanasse depicts well the rigors of living through a northern winter just below the Alaska range and Josh's coming to terms with his difficult family situation, in part through his friendship with Shannon, a 14-year-old girl who is also new to Alaska, and in part through the growing maturity that his forced isolation grants him. In the end, he finds courage as well as a respect for the grandeur of his surroundings that put him in a middle ground between his father's utilitarian view of the wilderness and Nathan's ultimately destructive view of bears as his true brothers. A coming-of-age novel with moments of true adventure, this title will find an audience in libraries well beyond Alaska.-Sue Sherif, Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library, AK
Kirkus Reviews
Josh, 15, lives with his father and older half-brother, Nathan, in a cabin in the wilderness 100 miles from Anchorage, Alaska. Living there was Nathan's idea; he is full of high-minded ideas about nature that are rigorous but not always realistic. Josh, a pretty good woodsman, would rather live in a place where he could enjoy friends, girls, video games, and hockey, but when he kills a bear that is charging them, Nathan reacts with fury. Josh and his father—who, to Josh's chagrin, would follow Nathan anywhere—learn that Nathan identifies closely with the bears; he decides that he can't live with them because they are meat-eaters, and moves into an elderly neighbor's empty cabin. When the neighbor's relatives (including a pretty 14-year-old girl) come to spend a weekend at the cabin, Josh hopes the conflicts of interest will precipitate his move back to town. In the end, it is Nathan's risky involvement with the bears that forces the issue. Vanasse (A Distant Enemy, 1997) pulls readers into the story from the outset, and her sensitively drawn characters display a realistic mix of love and loyalty. The complex interplay of feelings in this troubled family, set against the pristine beauty of backwoods Alaska, imbues an already compelling read with a refreshing combination of action and psychological depth. (Fiction. 10-14) .
From the Publisher
Josh, 15, lives with his father and older half-brother, Nathan, in a cabin in the wilderness 100 miles from Anchorage, Alaska. Living there was Nathan's idea; he is full of high-minded ideas about nature that are rigorous but not always realistic. Josh, a pretty good woodsman, would rather live in a place where he could enjoy friends, girls, video games, and hockey, but when he kills a bear that is charging them, Nathan reacts with fury. Josh and his fatherwho, to Josh's chagrin, would follow Nathan anywherelearn that Nathan identifies closely with the bears; he decides that he can't live with them because they are meat- eaters, and moves into an elderly neighbor's empty cabin. When the neighbor's relatives (including a pretty 14-year-old girl) come to spend a weekend at the cabin, Josh hopes the conflicts of interest will precipitate his move back to town. In the end, it is Nathan's risky involvement with the bears that forces the issue. Vanasse (A Distant Enemy, 1997) pulls readers into the story from the outset, and her sensitively drawn characters display a realistic mix of love and loyalty. The complex interplay of feelings in this troubled family, set against the pristine beauty of backwoods Alaska, imbues an already compelling read with a refreshing combination of action and psychological depth.
Kirkus Reviews

"A coming-of-age novel with moments of true adventure." School Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781940320014
  • Publisher: Running Fox Books
  • Publication date: 6/21/2013
  • Pages: 178
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Deb Vanasse lives in Alaska with her family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers' Favorite Deb Vanasse's book

    Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers' Favorite

    Deb Vanasse's book Out of the Wilderness is about two brothers, their father, and their constant conflicts. That would make for a rather normal story if the conflicts didn't take part in the 'middle of nowhere,' surrounded by forests and bears. Josh would simply like to live a normal life in a town, go to school, hang out with other kids and also have a girlfriend. However, his father always does what his other son, Nathan, wants. And Nathan wants to live out in the wilderness. When Josh kills a bear during a hunting trip, Nathan becomes even stranger and moves away from their cabin. The outdoors become harsher in winter and Nathan's love for bears suddenly grows into an obsession that turns everyone's life around, especially when a girl comes into their lives.

    Out of the Wilderness was an enjoyable read. I just wasn't too sure about the end. It kind of didn't feel like an end to me and I wasn't too satisfied by it. Apart from that, the book was very well written. It was easy to feel like you were there - the surroundings were beautifully described and the human emotions also came across in a powerful way. It was always clear why the people in the book were the way they were. Each of the characters was unique and had their own motivations - which led to a few clashes, but also to solutions. Deb Vanasse showed that she has a great understanding of human nature and skill in writing beautifully.

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    Out of the Wilderness was an amazing read. Deb Vanasse's excelle

    Out of the Wilderness was an amazing read. Deb Vanasse's excellent story telling made me feel as if I could feel the bitter cold, yet experience the breathtaking beauty of Willow Creek. I felt immensely sorry for Josh from the beginning of the story and also saddened by the fact he had to be dragged along for the sake of Nathan. However, I also understand the dad's unwillingness to let Nathan go again, and the deep need to make up for 'lost' time.
    A story filled with genuine human emotions. It was brilliant!

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