In the year since Nora’s most recent birthday, when a restaurant shooting resulted in the tragic death of her mother and a PTSD diagnosis for Nora, the girl’s father has kept her isolated and protected from the world. Unsurprisingly, Dad decides to celebrate her birthday with a trip far from civilization: rappelling into a slot canyon in the Sonoran Desert. Having grown up rock climbing and hiking through deserts, Nora is well versed in survival skills, but after the two travel for several hours, a flash flood steals away her father, leaving Nora alone with no supplies, no idea whether her dad is alive, and struggling to survive while keeping the demons of the last year at bay. Writing primarily in verse, with a few narrative passages, Bowling (24 Hours in Nowhere) creates a fast-paced, gripping novel in which Nora confronts dangers such as scorpions and snakes. The effective stream-of-consciousness narration jumps from Nora’s teeth-gritting determination to despairing flashbacks of the shooting that killed her mother and the fatigue-wearing “Beast” who still haunts her. Because the entire story spans roughly 48 hours, readers learn little about Nora outside of these two incidents, lessening the opportunities to connect with her. Still, the high level of tension and the emotional pull of Bowling’s writing make this a praiseworthy, adventure-filled story. Ages 8–12. Agent: Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Since the fateful day her mother was killed one year ago, Nora and her father have continually withdrawn further from society. Protecting their memories is how they've endured. While burying emotions seems to be Nora's strength, a hiking trip in Arizona's Sonoran Desert is about to change everything. A flash flood leaves Nora alone at the bottom of a canyon; no father, no supplies, and very little hope. If she's going to make it out alive, Nora must put her survival skills to the test and not only survive the desert, but face personal demons. Bowling delivers a poignant depiction of a young girl dealing with anxiety and PTSD. Bookended by narrative, the text transofrms seamlessly to verse in the middle (when Nora is alone in the canyon) to intensely convey Nora's thoughts and feelings. The continued struggle over her mother's death plays into her strife in the desert through flashbacks of therapy sessions from the past year. Forced to be alone with her thoughts, Nora battles what it means to survive versus what it means to live. As she gradually succeeds in getting out of the canyon, Nora realizes that a person is not defined by one moment, but rather, their resilience and growth over time. VERDICT For readers who bloomed under Leza Lowitz's Up From the Sea or Jasmine Warga's Other Words for Home, this emotionally resonant survival tale is a must-have.—Emily Walker, Lisle Lib. Dist., IL
A girl’s birthdays mark parallel tragedies for her broken family unit.
Last year’s celebration at a restaurant ended in an unexplained public shooting, and Nora’s mother died. She and her father are still wrestling with their trauma, Nora with a confirmed diagnosis of PTSD. For this year’s outing, Nora and her father head into the deserts of the Southwest on a rock-climbing expedition. They descend into a 40-foot deep slot canyon, then hike along inside until a flash flood barrels through the canyon, washing away all their supplies…and Nora’s father. She’s left to survive this symbolic and living nightmare on her own. Thankfully, she can make continuous use of her parents’ thorough training in desert knowledge. Brief sections of prose bracket the meat of the story, which is in verse, a choice highly effective in setting tone and emotional resonance for the heightened situation. Bowling’s poems run a gamut of forms, transforming the literal shape of the text just as the canyon walls surrounding Nora shape her trek. The voice of Nora’s therapist breaks through occasionally, providing a counterpoint perspective. Nora is white while two characters seen in memories have brown skin. The narrative also names local Native peoples. Elements of the survival story and psychological thriller combine with strong symbolism to weave a winding, focused, stunning narrative ultimately about the search for healing.
An edge-of-your-seat read. (Adventure. 8-12)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Canyon's Edge:
* "...stunning.... an edge-of-your-seat read."Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "...this emotionally resonant survival tale is a must-have."School Library Journal, starred review
* "....powerful..a triumphant story of healing and bravery."Booklist, starred review
"...beautifully written. [Dusti] Bowling is a master storyteller."Midwest Book Review
"A powerful, heart-thumping story about survival and the inner strength it takes to reclaim life after trauma. Nora shows us that it's possible to emerge stronger than we've ever been before."Ann Braden, award-winning author of The Benefits of Being an Octopus
You won't be able to stop turning pages of this gripping, unforgettable novel with emotional depth and resonance as you cheer for Nora to conquer her inner and outer beasts."Donna Gephart, award-winning author of Lily and Dunkin, The Paris Project, and Abby, Tried and True
"A haunting, heart-pounding story of survival, brilliantly told in verse. The Canyon's Edgewill inspire, uplift and resonate. I loved it!"Barbara Dee, author of Maybe He Just Likes You and My Life in the Fish Tank
"A gutsy, page-turning tale of courage, survival, and healing, told in dynamic verse. The Canyon's Edge is powerful, unflinching, and full of heart."Chris Baron, author of All of Me