This summer I find myself going back to some of the good books of a generation ago. I had never read “Hatchet” before, perhaps because it seemed more of a guy’s book. But after reading it, I have concluded that it’s a great read for just about everyone – girls as well as boys, adults, and everyone in-between!
The story focuses on Brian, a 13-year-old who is being flown to a remote part of Canada to visit his father for the summer. The pilot suffers a massive heart attack, the plane veers quite off course, and it crashes into a lake. Brian manages to make it to land despite his injuries, and spends the next couple months surviving off the land. The only thing he has with him is the hatchet his mother gave him, the one he had strapped to his belt.
One of the things I enjoyed about this book was that it was almost entirely just one character. The author didn’t make the story complicated with lots of characters, but chose to focus just on Brian. It’s a very straight-forward story about a boy learning how to provide for himself in the wilderness, with no one else to depend on. His senses become sharper and more attuned to the subtle cues of nature as time goes on. By the end of the story, Brian is much stronger in body and mind than he thinks possible.
“Hatchet” was named a Newbery Honor book in 1988. People enjoyed the short novel so much that the author wrote four more books about Brian. Put this book on your summer reading pile!