The Journey Back

The Journey Back

4.7 7
by Priscilla Cummings
     
 

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A teenage boy faces his past and seeks redemption in the gripping companion book to Red Kayak

Nine months in a juvenile detention facility was the punishment for his crime. After just a month he makes a bold escape that nearly kills him and soon an angry fourteen-year-old Digger is on the run. When injuries stop him, Digger hides at a riversideSee more details below

Overview

A teenage boy faces his past and seeks redemption in the gripping companion book to Red Kayak

Nine months in a juvenile detention facility was the punishment for his crime. After just a month he makes a bold escape that nearly kills him and soon an angry fourteen-year-old Digger is on the run. When injuries stop him, Digger hides at a riverside campground, where he befriends a young boy and a girl his own age. New friends, a job caring for rescued horses, and risking his life to save another make Digger realize that the journey back is not just about getting home. But he come to terms with his troubled past and face what he's really running from?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An exciting, thoughtful story."
VOYA

"This high-action journey has suspense to spare, and the continual near misses will keep readers cheering for Digger."
Booklist

VOYA - Mary Ann Harlan
Digger made a poor choice, and the consequences have led him to Cliffside Youth Detention Center. Now, faced with news from home, Digger is going to make another choice with consequences. The Journey Back, a sequel to Red Kayak (Dutton, 2004/Voya October 2004), tells the story of Digger’s escape from the juvenile facility and his attempt to return home to protect his family. Along the way, he participates in more criminal activity, finds a family, finds love, becomes a hero, and finds himself. Like all choices, Digger’s have consequences, and although they are primarily positive, not all of them are. With enough reference to Red Kayak, a reader who has not read Digger’s story can understand his backstory and appreciate The Journey Back as a story on its own. The sequel also extends Digger’s story for fans of the first book. The resolution is perhaps a little too pat in creating a happy ending for the characters; although, there could be another story in telling Nora’s, the girl Digger falls in love with, story. There are times a reader may have to suspend belief due to the lucky coincidences Digger encounters. On the other hand, the novel introduces the reader to people who live on the edge, as Digger makes a home in a campground, using road kill to feed the members of the community. Overall, Cummings has produced an exciting, thoughtful story for middle school readers. Ages 11 to 15.
Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
Fourteen-year-old Digger has to get home. When his mom comes to Visiting Day at Cliffside Youth Detention Center, he can see from her tired eyes and the bruises she is hiding that nothing has changed. He has to escape so he can protect her, his little sister LeeAnn, and his little brother Hank. He has been sentenced to nine months at Cliffside for his part in a prank that ended up killing a little boy. After an adventurous escape involving a garbage truck and a stolen tractor trailer, Digger finds himself hiking the C&O Canal towpath. Eventually, he arrives at a campground and stays with a father and son who are living there. He earns the trust of a dog, Buddy, and the boy, Luke, and his new friend Nora helps him get work at a nearby horse farm. When his past catches up with him, he learns he cannot run away from his guilt. Though the lives of these characters are starkly realistic, the story is beautifully told. The action is fast-paced and constant, but always natural and believable. The geography of Western Maryland and history of the C&O Canal are woven into the storytelling well, but they may tire some readers. Those who have read Red Kayak, Cummings' previous story about Digger, will enjoy learning what happens to him next, but this book stands on its own and will not confuse readers unfamiliar with Digger's story. This boy, who has caused the death of another and stolen things large and small, will earn a place in your heart with his genuine spirit and loyalty.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Michael "Digger" Griswald, from The Red Kayak (Dutton, 2004), takes center stage here. After his 14th birthday, he escapes from the Cliffside Youth Detention Center, where he has been incarcerated for his role in a young boy's death, and heads home to protect his mother and young siblings from his abusive father. After stealing a tractor trailer and driving to the C&O Canal towpath, the angry teen takes a bike, food, and a canoe to continue his journey. However, his progress is hindered when he injures his ankle and gets a bad case of poison ivy. A stray dog becomes his companion and he happens upon third-grader Luke and teenager Nora. They take him to a campground home, where he hides out with Luke and his father. The incorporation of the poverty seen in the campground provides a glimpse into a life in America. Digger gets a job and grows closer to Luke and develops feelings for Nora. He also processes his anger issues and he gains a stronger sense of self and accountability for his actions. While the tied-up loose ends, didactic nature of the plot, and clean language might induce eye-rolling from discerning readers, the book's life lessons have merits. Cummings focuses on "if/then" and TOP (think of the other person) thinking. She incorporates these life skills into the story through memories, contemplation, and a white laminated card of Cliffside rules that Digger carries.—Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ
Kirkus Reviews
Sentenced to a juvenile detention camp and eager to escape, Digger has a plan that sends him on a journey that is both a survival story and a lesson in trust. Introduced as the culprit in a prank gone wrong in Red Kayak (2004), Digger is angry yet determined to help his mother and siblings, who have long been abused by his father. Though seemingly anxious for their safety, Digger is derailed surprisingly easily once on the outside, as he tries to evade authorities and fend for himself as best he can. He develops a whole new persona as Gerry, the baby sitter for a kid with reading difficulties and a gambling father, and gets a job as a stable hand for a nearby horse-rescue farm. Some of the survival techniques he uses are both unlawful and unlikely, but Digger's strong narrative voice and the basic decency beneath his stupidity help readers overcome these flaws. A surplus of action keeps the plot moving forward and obscures questions of logic that might emerge if readers had an opportunity to stop and think. The trope of the underdog who survives and wins a better future due to kindness in the world and in his heart is fairly standard fare, and this is no exception. It's a satisfying one, though, and it rises above the genre via gritty language and secondary characters with lives of their own. (map) (Fiction. 12-16)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101591659
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
10/11/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
213,270
Lexile:
810L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
10 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

A daring escape.

I was thirteen—no, fourteen—years old and I was in prison because I played a practical joke on the rich neighbor who bought my grampa's farm. My grampa is in a nursing home now, but it used to be, when things were bad at home, I could escape to Grampa's. That's why I hated Mr. DiAngelo so much. He was the snooty guy who bought Grampa's farm, tore the house down, then build a mansion there so he could show off how much money he had. One day, he even kicked me and my friends off his property. So I played a joke on the a-hole, only the joke went sour and his little boy died...

For a minute there, the memories stopped. It was like hitting a wall. Everything stopped for me when I thought back to what I done. Which is why I tried not to think back on it. What good did it do? I couldn't undo the past.

I went to prison for my crime, but now I needed to get home, so I escaped in a garbage truck, which is how I came to be squashed beneath a ton of garbage.

The sound of a distant siren pierced the air. I knew if I didn't crawl out of that garbage and disappear, I'd be right back where I came from with even more time ahead of me.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"An exciting, thoughtful story."
VOYA

"This high-action journey has suspense to spare, and the continual near misses will keep readers cheering for Digger."
Booklist

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