Brian’s Return – by Gary Paulsen (1999)

Brian's Return

This is the final book in the “Hatchet” series. In the previous novels, Brian survives a plane crash, food deprivation, animal attacks, and storms in a remote Canadian forest. But now he is back to a regular life in the city, going to high school, surrounded by people that consider him a hero and celebrity. Brian isn’t interested in being the center of their attention, or telling his survival story over and over. In fact, he just wants to be left alone.

Brian’s experience is not unlike G.I.s coming home from war, being unable to re-assimilate into society again. No one understands how ill at ease he now feels at school or in a group of people out for a good time. There is a disconnect between him and everyone else. Brian just wants to go home, home to the woods.

We all have a place in life that is true home – or we are searching for that place. It’s where you can be the person you were created to be. For some, it’s a small community, for others a dense area in New York City, for still others a farmhouse with only a couple other houses in sight. Some people must have a traditional life and job to feel normal, others travel constantly, and for some, their work changes on any given day. Some folks like well-defined rules and boundaries, others are willing to live with almost nothing as long as they have liberty to make their own choices. We’re all of a different disposition and bend, and somewhere there is a perfect habitat for each of us on God’s great earth.


Excerpt from “Author’s Note” at the end of the book:

Virtually all that happens to Brian in these books has happened to me at some point or other in my life…

For nearly twelve years I lived completely in the bush. For most of that period, if I did not kill it with a bow and arrow or grow it in a garden or pick it in the woods (berries and hazelnuts) I did not eat it. I supported a family off the woods, as perhaps Brian will. We bought only salt and seasonings and clothing. All food and shelter and heat came from the bush or a garden and it must be said that the quality of the food I ate then far surpasses anything I can buy from the store now, either vegetable or animal (though I am now a vegetarian) and it was perhaps the healthiest time of my life.

Once you have seen the horizon, have followed it, have lived with nature in all its vicious beauty, it is impossible to come back to “normal” life. Like Brian, I tried. I bought a house in town with a yard and neighbors – because I thought that was the thing to do – and inside a week I was pacing like a panther in a cage, trying to see our, see across the town to the hills, to the trees, to the woods.

Author: alwaysreading1

I'm just a person with an intense love for reading!

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