Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange.
This Middle-Grade contemporary novel takes a realistic approach to connecting the life of a bear trapped in a bucket to the life of a young boy stuck in a small town. Noah is smart, quiet, once favorite seventh grader facing the challenge of another year of school. A mistake made during his previous school year not only cost the school their football team but also cost his mother her freedom. He is forced to pay for the mistakes made by his mother now being deemed an outcast in his town. In a school filled people who dislike him, he has one friend, Raina. Raina is a spunky, out-spoken, pre-teen who feels she is more cultured than any person in this entire school. She will do whatever it takes to get her message across to people, even if that means starting a school newspaper to spread the word. The town of Ashtown has a known problem with bears. The school begins an “ice-bucket themed” challenge to raise money for charity in hopes of appealing to the Football League to get the football team reinstated. This challenge has now caused a surplus of buckets around town, and a small cub seems to have its head caught in a bucket. As Raina and Noah try to save the cub, Jeff (Noah’s now guardian) seeks to help Noah mend his relationship with his mom. I recommend this novel to anyone who interested in a middle grade novel that focuses on forgiveness, dealing with guilt, and friendship. I recommend this book for any middle schooler having a hard time fitting in.
” The bear rose on her back feet, slamming down to her front paws so hard the impact echoes through the woods. Head swinging, she pawed the dirt in front of me with long, sharp claws. A fierce rumbling growl ripped through her and over me. That was it. We were both out of time.” Page One
Okay, let’s discuss this opening line in the book. This quote is directly from the first page of the book. First glance I was intrigued. This quote does a bit of foreshadowing of what is to come closer to the end of the novel.
Overall, I thought this novel was just okay. I did not completely dislike it, but I felt it could have developed more. There are a few areas that felt forced. I wanted a bit more character development of Diane, Noah’s mom. I would have liked more character development of the supporting characters in this novel as well, such as Jeff and Raina. These characters play a vital role in this book in supporting the main character and the development of the plot. Typically when I read any book made for teens or under I look for two things, the overall lesson and the intended influence. I assumed the experience was to find something you believe in and don’t let the struggles of things you can not control get you down. This is a great lesson to provide.
I am giving this book three stars because I can tell the author tried with this novel. The life lesson is present, but I did not entirely like the delivery or fully understand the purpose of the bear.