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I was away visiting a friend, and while she was caring for her family I started reading Switchback. I hadn’t seen this friend in a while and was eager to chat with her some more. When she came back, I put my book away so we could chat, but every lull in the conversation had me longing to read more from Danika Stone’s newest book.
By the time we were done chatting it was much too late to continue reading so guess what I did when I woke up? I READ! Yes, I finished it in less than an hour. 🙂 Thoroughly enjoyed it! So let me tell you about this Canadian adventure.
What I am Reviewing
320 pages, Age 12-18
Received Hardcover Copy
Adventure, Canada, Middle School, Survival, Canadian National Parks,
Gamer, Sexual Orientation, Young Adult
Reviewed for Raincoast Books.
Vale loves to hike, but kind of hates her classmates. Ash is okay with his classmates, but kind of hates the outdoors. So, needless to say they are both fairly certain that the overnight nature hike with their PE class is going to be a hellish experience. But when they get separated from the group during a storm, they have worse things to worry about than bullies and blisters.
Lost in the Canadian wilderness with limited supplies, caught in dangerous weather conditions, and surrounded by deadly wildlife, it’s going to take every bit of strength, skill, and luck they can muster to survive.
The Details about Switchback
Middle School PE two day adventure hiking in the mountains. Oh the fun! The excitement! The terror! The “I don’t want to’s”! Ash and Vale, two best friends, heading into a situation that neither wishes to be in.
Vale, bullied for standing up to bullies and being a tad different than other kids. Ash being caught between friendships. Both alone, and yet not quite. Teachers and parents who don’t quite get it. And a fall trip into the mountains of Waterton Park. What could possibly go wrong?
Lost kids, a mountain, fall weather and before you know it a whole lot of trouble is happening.
Switchback is a quick read that you feel compelled to continue. The fast pace ensures you don’t get lost in the details. The awkwardness of teens, the love of the gaming world, the well-played examples of nerd-dom, combined with beauty, fear, and growth in characters.
Each chapter has a unique quote starting it out. They come from different movies such as predator, eight below, gravity etc.
I found the book comfortable to hold and read, the type was a great size for reading through a fast-paced book. It was so compelling to know what would happen next, so having a good text size to facilitate that was great.
I enjoyed the story, immensely actually even though the sheer number of adventures/escapades seemed a little over the top. It was still well written and I wanted to know the end result.
Most adventure loving young people (upper middle school through young adult) would enjoy the story as well. It’s well written with interesting characters, even with a bully I just want to whack upside the head a time or two.
I do want to add a caution. Vale identifies as aro-ace. The definition for those who didn’t know is feeling no romantic or sexual attraction towards anyone of any gender.
I struggled with this early labeling. She’s young. Knows her current self well but she doesn’t know her future self. Things can change. Labels don’t allow room for that coming change.
I am hesitant about encouraging youth to embrace such a limiting definition of themselves. I don’t think it benefits youth to be encouraging them to internalize such a definition for themselves. Reading a book may or may not reinforce that in young middle school readers. It’s hard to know.
Overall, Switchback is an excellent read to see a bullied youth stick up for herself and to have a friend realize some truths about himself as well.