Review: The Edge of Nowhere by John Smelcer

Could you survive in the wilds of Alaska if you were washed overboard from a fishing boat during a storm and somehow, amazingly, managed to make it to dry land? This is the challenge facing Seth and his loyal dog, Tucker. They are out on Seth’s father’s fishing boat during a terrible storm and neither Seth’s dad or his friend realise that the boy and dog have been washed overboard until they reach home and are found to be missing from the boat. A search party is sent out, but Seth is assumed drowned. Luckily, Seth and his dog manage to get to one of the tiny islands that run along the coast of Alaska, and after realising that no one is coming to help them they slowly make their way hundreds of miles over many months. Will they starve to death, or freeze, or be eaten by bears before they manage to make it home?

This is a tale of triumph in the face of adversity. Seth has nothing going for him at the start of the book. His mother died a year before, his relationship with his father has deteriorated since then. He is overweight, eating only junk food, and keeps himself to himself all the time, playing video games and listening to music. Being tossed overboard during the storm turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to him. As he slowly tries to make his way home he finds that he is starting to remember tales his grandmother told him of his Alutiiq ancestry, long-forgotten words for the wildlife he meets along the way and old folk tales. As he’s forced to struggle to survive, finding foods he can eat raw, making shelters for himself and his dog, hiding from bears, he begins to learn lessons about himself. He remembers how happy his family used to be, and begins to understand his own, and his father’s, grief.

Read the rest of my review for The Bookbag.

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