Title: Alone in the Woods
Author: Rebecca Behrens
Genre: Middle Grade, Children, Adventure
Story Perspective: Alternating First-Person
Themes: Survival, Self-Esteem, Bravery, Friendship, Bullying
Publication Date: October 1, 2020
Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers
Thank you to the NetGalley and Sourcebooks Young Readers for giving me the opportunity to read and review an ARC of Alone in the Woods.
For as long as the girls can remember, Jocelyn and Alex have been best friends. Nothing could separate the two. However, one summer camp away, things do change. Now, there is a wall between the two girls. Jocelyn’s unsure what happened, but hopes their annual end-of-the-summer trip with both families, they can rekindle their friendship.
However, Alex is very different, and Jocelyn isn’t sure what to do. When the two share an inflatable raft, they find themselves separated from their families and stranded in the woods alone. With just their swimsuits, very little food and water, and very little supplies, the two girls find themselves trying to survive in the woods for multiple days.
Will they be able to find their way back to their families and survive the woods? Will their friendship be the same?
Here is another recent ARC that I received from NetGalley and publisher, Sourcebooks Young Readers. It was one that surprised me how much I ended up enjoying!
One of my favorite aspects of this book was the switching perspectives throughout the read. The reader gets to read about Jocelyn’s present-day perspective, which gives us a good idea of the type of person she is. Then, periodically, the author switches to Alex’s perspective of events that lead up to their close friendship growing apart. Both perspectives give readers the chance to learn about the two girls, their thoughts, and feelings.
While getting to know each protagonist, the author provoked some of my feelings toward the two. I felt sympathy toward sweet Jocelyn while I was impatient and even annoyed with Alex for most of the book. However, reflecting back both personalities and the decisions they make are very realistic for preteens. Some preteens just want their best friends to stay the same, while others want to be accepted by more of their classmates, especially if these classmates are considered “cool.” It was also great to see that even Alex’s decisions, she also had some guilt toward some of her actions. This part of her is also very realistic.
Looking at the plot, I found myself interested the entire time while reading. Perhaps it’s because I work with preteens or because the way the author wrote the story, but I really wanted to know what happened to these two girls’ seemingly strong friendship. Then, when the two become lost together in the woods, it was extremely easy to picture the difficulties and frightening moments they experienced together. I could visualize what the girls were seeing and experiencing (the weather, the bugs, thirst, hunger, injuries, wild animals, etc.), so much so that I would never want to get lost in the woods…
The arch of Alex and Jocelyn’s friendship was done well. The author clearly shows that they had a strong friendship prior to the events of the story by using memories and Alex’s past perspective chapters. Then, the struggle the two face as their families go on their annual end-of-summer vacation seemed realistic. Lastly, when they had to rely on each other for survival, and their barriers started to break, it was something I appreciated reading.
Overall, Alone in the Woods was a book that I simply enjoyed. Not only can I see middle grade readers enjoying the read, but also relating to the friendship struggles Jocelyn and Alex go through.
I would recommend this book to preteens who enjoy a read about friendship and survival in the woods.