The Bear

The Bear

3.7 21
by Claire Cameron

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A powerful suspense story narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother after a brutal bear attack

While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, three hundred pounds of fury, is attacking the family's campsite -- and


A powerful suspense story narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother after a brutal bear attack

While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, three hundred pounds of fury, is attacking the family's campsite -- and pouncing on her parents as prey.

At her dying mother's faint urging, Anna manages to get her brother into the family's canoe and paddle away. But when the canoe runs aground on the edge of the woods, the sister and brother must battle hunger, the elements, and a wilderness alive with danger. Lost and completely alone, they find that their only hope resides in Anna's heartbreaking love for her family, and her struggle to be brave when nothing in her world seems safe anymore.

This is a story with a small narrator and a big heart. Cameron gracefully plumbs Anna's young perspective on family, responsibility, and hope, charting both a tragically premature loss of innocence and a startling evolution as Anna reasons through the impossible situations that confront her.

Lean and confident, and told in the innocent and honest voice of a five-year-old, THE BEAR is a transporting tale of loss -- but also a poignant and surprisingly funny adventure about love and the raw instincts that enable us to survive.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by a fatal 1991 bear attack on a couple camping on an island in Ontario's Algonquin Park, Cameron's novel of fear and survival recounts the fictional escape from a similar attack of five-year-old Anna and her two-year-old brother, Alex (nicknamed "Stick" for his sticky fingers). Anna's narrative begins midattack after her father has tossed her and her brother into the storage chest they call "Coleman." Squished in the darkness between Stick and her teddy bear, Anna sees a black furry animal through a crack, but all she can picture is her next-door neighbor's dog Snoopy. In daylight, she climbs out of Coleman to discover what remains of her father and to catch her mother's last words urging her to put her brother in the canoe and paddle away. What follows is a vividly portrayed wilderness ordeal (poison ivy, hunger, rain, isolation) juxtaposed with glimpses of the inner resources young Anna draws upon (imagination, family, memory, hope), all seen through the eyes of a child who can express, if not entirely understand, her own resentment and protectiveness of her brother, her love and longing for her parents, her fear and empathy for the predator, and her determination to persevere. Upping the emotional ante, Cameron shows the children's rescue, Anna's encounter in a hospital with a child psychologist, and, years later, her return to the island with Alex as adults. Intensity, as well as Anna's voice, make reading this book a challenging but ultimately uplifting experience. (Feb.)
Library Journal
★ 01/01/2014
Drawing on a real-life tragedy that befell a couple in Ontario's Algonquin Park in the 1990s, Cameron tells the story of five-year-old Anna and her toddler brother, Stick, who narrowly escape a horrific bear attack that kills their mother and father. The concerns of the young narrator—being good, remaining brave when her parents and her teddy bear are gone, how annoying her brother is—are an engaging, focused lens through which to view events in the novel. Anna doesn't understand the death of her parents until much later. As Cameron points out, humans tend to look for mistakes made by the victims in such cases, because this makes us feel safe as long as we do not make those errors. Unfortunately, animals in the wild can be unpredictable. VERDICT This is a fast, compelling read for nature lovers, though it's not the book to take with you while camping if you plan to sleep at all. Cameron's first novel, The Line Painter, won the Northern Lit Award from the Ontario Library Service and was nominated for an Arthur Ellis Crime Writing Award. [See Prepub Alert, 8/12/13.]—Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ. Libs., Arlington, VA
From the Publisher
Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction


A gripping survival thriller...Cameron unspools the adventure in Anna's twitchy voice, heightening the tension as the youngsters battle storms, cold, hunger and fear...But this agonizing odyssey of loss and being lost has humor...The book's anguished yet hopeful ending provides a touching terminus...This expertly crafted novel could do for camping what Jaws did for swimming."—Richard Eisenberg, People (4 out of 4 stars)"

A page turner...Like Emma Donoghue's Room...The Bear creates suspense out of the gap between what Anna knows and what the reader suspects...The story is laced with humor and moments of joy and triumph as well as fear and sorrow...So gripping that it is hard to put the novel down."—Margaret Quamme, Columbus Dispatch"

Read this book in one sitting...Taut and engrossing...Cameron proves masterly in the creation of a child's fractured world view, as familiar as it is unexpected, as observant as it is naive...Cameron's resonant plot and Anna's unforgettable voice add up to a novel destined to stay with you long after you've chewed through it."—Jared Bland, The Globe and Mail"

Visceral...Cameron reminds us how tenuous is our mastery of the natural world."—Christine Fischer Guy, The Millions"

A gut-wrenching trip through the Canadian wilderness with a 5-year-old as your guide, a roller coaster of emotions...Heart-wrenching...I had to force myself to slow down and not race through pages...Cameron does an exquisite job with Anna's story...Very engaging. Bittersweet, and lovely. If you liked the childlike voice of Room, you'll be captivated here."—Kelly Konrad, Chicago Now"

A vividly portrayed wilderness ordeal...all seen through the eyes of a child...Uplifting."—Publishers Weekly, "Pick of the Week""

A slam-bang opening...Scary...Darkly funny...Touching...Harrowing but ultimately hopeful."—Kirkus Reviews"

Harrowing...A sort of youngster stream of consciousness...Touchingly voiced courageousness...From the conception to the execution, the book is an exploration of anguish from a child's point of view, shaded and shaped by Cameron."—Eloise Kinney, Booklist"

The concerns of the young narrator - being good, remaining brave when her parents and her teddy bear are gone, how annoying her brother is - are an engaging, focused lens through which to view events in the novel...This is a fast, compelling read for nature lovers."—Gwen Vredevoogd, Library Journal (Starred Review)"

An emotional tour de force. Claire Cameron's The Bear offers us an unforgettable child narrator who propels us through a story as unsettling as it is bone-chilling, and as suspenseful as it is moving."—Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me"

The Bear is a taut and touching story of how a child's love and denial become survival skills. Claire Cameron takes a fairytale situation of children pitted against the wilderness, removes the fairies, and adds a terrifying and ravenous bear. I devoured this wonderful new novel in one day."—Charlotte Rogan, author of the national bestseller The Lifeboat "

Claire Cameron has written a chilling, beautiful, voice-driven novel, one that will turn your blood cold, make you laugh, and remind you of all the ways you are human. Most importantly she honors the complexity of our relationship with nature, the ways we are humbled by it and tethered to it. A vivid, potent, and unforgettable novel."—Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise"

Claire Cameron plunges us in to the dark terrors of the wilderness. The Bear is a survival story that is heart-pounding and moving. I devoured this book."—Tanis Rideout, author of Above All Things"

The Bear faultlessly captures the wonder, bewilderment, fear and self-centeredness of five-year-old Anna, and beautifully balances the darkness of her tale with a hopeful, sensitively told back story and moments when she grasps her situation with just enough clarity to shoulder her burden."—Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls"

Thrilling and harrowing...I couldn't put this book down. And I must say that the ending was so right, I caught myself holding my breath. A remarkable novel."—Anthony De Sa, author of Kicking the Sky"

Harrowing suspense. The Bear is a survival thriller that is told from a child's-eye point-of-view, which is not only convincing but doubles the tension. A heartbreaking, white-knuckle read."—Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist"

The Bear is a harrowing and endlessly hopeful novel-an unforgettable hymn to the legacy of familial love. Claire Cameron is alive to mind of the child. Her assured evocation of soon-to-be-six-year-old Anna hits all the right notes: the connective web of association and analogy; the permeable skin between truth and story; the immersive experience of time. This is subtle magic-the transportive spell of a pitch-perfect narrative voice. We witness the unfolding of events through Anna's eyes while simultaneously watching over her small shoulder, hearts in our mouths. The Bear is no fable, gentle reader. A source of terror and lonely solace, Cameron's fur-clad villain threatens from without and from within. Like our unwilling heroine, we must be very, very brave."—Alissa York, author of Fauna"

A hauntingly beautiful novel about the unspoken bond between mothers and children."—Miriam Toews, author of A Complicated Kindness, The Flying Troutmans, and Irma Voth

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
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Hachette Digital, Inc.
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File size:
884 KB

Meet the Author

Claire Cameron's first novel, The Line Painter, was published in 2007 by HarperCollins Canada. It won the Northern Lit Award from the Ontario Library Service and was nominated for an Arthur Ellis Crime Writing Award for best first novel. Cameron's work has appeared in the New York Times, The Globe&Mail, and The Rumpus. She worked as a wilderness instructor in Algonquin Park and for Outward Bound. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.

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The Bear 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
A child's perspective I received an advance reader edition of this book from Little, Brown and Company and Net Galley for the purpose of review. I really enjoyed this book. It is no secret that I read a lot. I have read lots of books. Because I read so many books, I often see similarities in the book that I am reading to other books that I have read. A plot that was exciting the first time that I experienced it may not be quite as much fun the twentieth time I encounter it. That is why I liked this book so much…It was different! I do realize that other books have been told from the point of view of a young child but this is the first time that I have had the privilege to read a book written in that format. This book starts out with 5 year old Anna camping with her family. Anna is not sure what is going on when she hears yelling. The next thing she knows she is being thrown into the cooler by her father along with her brother. After time passes and things quiet down, Anna gets the cooler open and hears her mother. Her mother tells her to get her brother in the canoe and she will catch up. Anna does as she is told and takes care of her 2 year old brother “Sticky” until they are found. This story is told in the wandering way that a 5 year old experiences life. The author was able to truly capture the innocence of childhood. The epilogue ends the story perfectly. I would rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. It was well written and the main character was so realistic. Every time Anna sniffed her bear Gwen, I thought about how my own daughter would throw a fit every time I washed her pink doggie because then he smelled “funny” in her eyes. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something a little out of the ordinary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do recommend this book, not because of a suspenseful plot, but for the insight I got into a 5 year old's mind. She's resourceful and fanciful at the same time. An excellent, quick read.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite In The Bear by author Claire Cameron, we meet a young girl, who is five years old, and her two-year-old brother. The sound of her mother screaming awakened Anna. Her father grabbed her and her brother Stick, threw them in a large cooler, and told them to stay there. A black bear had attacked the campsite. The young children stayed hidden for hours but they were hungry and frightened. Anna heard the sound of teeth scraping on bone from inside their hiding place. When they called for Mommy and Daddy, no one answered. Eventually they managed to open the cooler and crawl out. The only food they found was a tin of cookies with sharp teeth marks in the metal. Anna coaxed Stick into the boat and paddled with her hands. Anna was just a child and yet she had to step into the role of protector. The Bear, read by Cassandra Morris, is a frightening tale surrounding a camping trip. I will never go camping again after listening to this book. This tale is loosely based on an actual bear attack that took place in 1991. Cassandra Morris’s voice was perfection in this book. The Bear is told through Anna’s eyes. While it was obvious to the reader what was actually happening, young Anna thought the bear was a large dog. Although Anna and Stick survive, there are lasting effects from the experience. I felt Anna’s terror as she walked with her makeshift spear. It was the aftermath that brought me to tears. Claire Cameron is a talented author; she demonstrated all the emotions Anna was facing - fear, loss, hunger, and anger. The action was so realistic that the reader will swear they could smell the bear’s breath. This is not a good book; it is a great book. The Bear is totally mesmerizing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lakraft More than 1 year ago
Great children/ tween book that quickly draws you in and keeps you interested throught the entire story. This is written from the mind of the 5 year old Anna and is about the struggles she has after a bear attacks her parents. I don't want to give this away but Anna has to become the caregiver of her 2 year old brother. Great fight for survival. Emotional read but worth every minute!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Premise was interesting, but I genuinely did not enjoy this book. Didn't like the "voice", really did not care for it.
BeachMop More than 1 year ago
Told from the point of view of a five year old it has all the denial,grief, resonsibility and love of a person facing disaster.Well wtitten,stong finish,a book to actively discuss!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly fascinatiing book- one of the best books l've read in years
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I guess it was ok. But the sample makes no sense at all. It just sems like she rambles on and on and on. I would not recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although it was a well written book I thought it was actually written by a survivor of the bear attack only to find that the children were added to the book by the author. That being said it was an interesting book and I enjoyed it, but I do not know that I would have purchased the book had I known the children were made up.
Maro More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want to hear a five year old ramble nonsense for a whole book.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I read the book I felt there were many points that seemed to ramble on...areas that could have been condensed. Then I had to remember that the events were being relayed through the mind of a 5 year old little girl. The author does a great job of putting you in Anna's head. As you progress through the story you just want to somehow get to them and help them. As a parent my heart was breaking for them. I have kids the exact ages and I could not help but picture my daughter having to take on that role for her brother. The book sucks you in and there is no real point to take a reading break because you want/have to know what is going to happen next.
Twink More than 1 year ago
I love to read. And I read a lot. I only choose books I know I'm going to enjoy. But every so often, there's that book that goes beyond that enjoyment feeling - one that absolutely grabs you, has you tingling with anticipation knowing there's an amazing story just waiting within the pages, one that you can't wait to tell others about. Well, I'm telling you - The Bear by Claire Cameron is one of those books. I literally could not put it down. Twenty pages in, I just knew I wasn't going to bed early that night. In October of 1991, a pair of campers was attacked by a bear in Algonquin Park, Canada. "There is no clear reason for what happened other than a hungry bear decided to take a chance on a new source of food." Author Cameron was a counsellor at a summer camp at Algonquin that year as well. "The Bear is based on my memories of and research into this bear attack. I added the kids." Yes, kids. The Bear is told through the eyes and voice of five year old Anna. She and her two year old brother Stick, are the survivors of an attack that kills their parents - and leaves them alone in the vast wilderness that is Algonquin. As adults, we know what is happening and what they should do, but Anna is only five and has limited skills, knowledge and experience to draw on. It is frightening and heartbreaking to imagine this truly happening - the confusion, the questions, the fear and the loss. Cameron does a truly fantastic job of bringing this to the page with Anna's voice. Through her memories, thoughts and senses (smell and touch are very important to Anna) we come to know the children, the family's life, the parents and their love for Anna and Stick. Anna draws on her memories time and time again as she struggles with what to do. The Bear is told in a 'stream-of-consciousness', non-linear format that was highly effective and heightened the tension. Emotional, unsettling, gripping and gut-wrenchingly good. Highly, highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a 'feel good' book..the one good feature of The Bear by Claire Cameron was that it wasn't long. Based on a real bear attacked of two adults that involved no children, the author added two children to the story for no reason I could see other than to have a voice. Even for poetic license, to put children in these horrific conditions is unconcienable. The book is written as if a five year old is experiencing it right now making it even worse. I disagree with the overview when it says that the account is at times "funny." I would recommend this book one!