Rakmen Cannon's life is turning out to be one sucker punch after another. His baby sister died in his arms, his parents are on the verge of divorce, and he's flunking out of high school. The only place he fits in is with the other art therapy kids stuck in the basement of Promise House, otherwise known as support group central. Not that he wants to be there. Talking doesn't bring back the dead.
When he's shipped off to the Canadian wilderness with ten-year-old Jacey, another member of the support group, and her mom, his summer goes from bad to worse. He can't imagine how eight weeks of canoeing and camping could be anything but awful.
Yet despite his expectations, the vast and unforgiving backcountry just might give Rakmen a chance to find the way back from broken . . . if he's brave enough to grab it.
Amber J. Keyser's debut novel is a wrenching and brutally honest story of adversity and hope.
About the Author
Evolutionary biologist-turned-author Amber J. Keyser has a MS in zoology and a PhD in genetics. She writes both fiction and non-fiction for tweens and teens.
Her young adult novels include Pointe, Claw (Carolrhoda Lab, 2017), an explosive story about two girls claiming the territory of their own bodies, and The Way Back from Broken (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), a heart-wrenching novel of loss and survival (and a finalist for the Oregon Book Award). She is the co-author with Kiersi Burkhart of the middle grade series Quartz Creek Ranch (Darby Creek, 2017).
Her nonfiction titles include The V-Word (Beyond Words/SimonTeen, 2016), an anthology of personal essays by women about first-time sexual experiences (Rainbow List, Amelia Bloomer list, New York Public Library Best Book for Teens and Chicago Public Library Best Nonfiction for Teens) and Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes (Twenty-First Century Books, 2015), among numerous other titles.
Her forthcoming books include Tying the Knot: A World History of Marriage (Twenty-First Century Books, 2018) and Underneath It All: The History of Women's Underwear (Twenty-First Century Books, 2018). More information at www.amberjkeyser.com. Connect with Amber on Twitter @amberjkeyser.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This wasn’t one of those amazing reads that captured my attention from page one. Actually as I began reading it, I couldn’t figure out why I chose this book to begin with as the beginning was slow and depressing, more depressing than I normally like and believe me, I like down-and-out novels. There had to be a reason why I chose this novel and as I dug deeper into it, I figured it out. The true essence of the novel’s activities occurs in the last third of the book, as two of the main characters make major discoveries in their lives. Throughout the story, the characters faced many emotions as they come to terms with the struggles that life throws at them. Trying to face these struggles alone, they realize that they are not alone and that working together they are stronger. Rakman attend support group with his mother. The support group is for individuals who have lost a loved one. The children assembled in the basement, trying to drown out the cries from their mothers above. Jacey and her mother just joined, her mother’s sorrow consumes her, and Jacey has taken to Rakman, literally following him around like a dog. She’s younger than Rakman and I visualize that she saw in Rakman a big brother, someone she could look up to. The sorrow is thick inside this building as Rakman tries to keep the noise level high in the basement to keep the cries from hitting the children’s ears. Rakman can’t find a job for the summer but Jacey’s mother wants to take a trip to Canada to clear her head and Jacey wants Rakman to go. Rakman’s parents like the idea for they need some time alone to come to terms over their own loss. Rakman begs not to go for there are things here at home he will miss and two months away is a long time. His parents win out and they make the trip sounds wonderful but when they arrive at Jacey’s uncle’s cabin, the sight is not what they had imagined. Cleaning is superficial and what lies beneath takes its toll overtime. It becomes an adventure for the three of them, au large. For me, the story really began here as the three of them began the real journey. Testing their strengths and finding out who they really were. Stepping on toes and pushing aside their limitations. It was an okay story, I would take it or leave it.