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The Bear by Claire Cameron
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The Bear

by Claire Cameron

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Two small children camping in the Canadian backwoods with their parents survive after their parents die in a bear attack. The children, Anna about 5 years old, and her 2 year old brother "Stick" are alone in the wilderness with no food, water or shelter. What I liked about this book is that it is narrated by Anna, and Cameron captures the voice of a young child perfectly. She enters the state of mind of a 5 year old who can worry as much about her doll as the circumstances in which she and her brother find themselves. Anna can want to protect her brother one minute, and the next minute push him away in a fit of juvenile anger, or wander off and forget his existence altogether. Since we are learning the story from Anna's pov, it's sometimes not clear as to what is actually happening, as we can only understand what Anna understands, and sometimes not even that. This is stream of consciousness of a 5 year old's mind.

Cameron got the idea for the novel from a real-life bear attack that killed a young couple in a Canadian park in 1991. There were no children involve in the true event. Lots of reviewers did not like the use of the child pov. I loved that aspect. This book was longlisted for the Baileys's Prize. Highly recommended if you are not turned off by a child narrator. (Note: This is not a YA novel--it's actually quite difficult to read, puzzle out, and comprehend.)

4 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Sep 21, 2017 |
This expertly crafted novel could do for camping what Jaws did for swimming."―Richard Eisenberg, People Magazine
  mcmlsbookbutler | Jul 30, 2017 |
I'm surprised that this book was so well-regarded. Writing from a child's perspective is incredibly difficult (ROOM managed it well, in my opinion), and the premise of this books adds on to the impossibility, because there are two children and no adults at all. I don't even think the plot of this book is believable... two toddlers would never be able to survive that long in the untamed wild. ( )
  wildrequiem | Jun 14, 2017 |
The Bear by Claire Cameron is an emotional story birthed from a real-life event, the tragedy of Raymond Jakubauskas and Carola Frehe in October 1991 on Bates Island on Lake Opeongo in Algonquin Park, two hundred miles northeast of Toronto. The couple who had planned a three-day camping trip never returned, but were attacked and killed by a large male black bear for no apparent rationale other than predation.

The high interest in this novel is not perhaps the tragedy of its plot, but instead the voice of its narrator, young five-year-old Anna, who must navigate a nearly 3,000 square mile of wilderness on her own in care of her much younger brother, Alex, affectionately known and called Stick, who is only two years of age, after the brutal attack on her parents while on a camping trip.

Though I did find the narrative sometimes distracting and contrived, obvious in its attempt to sound like a five-year-old while some of the plot outcomes were also somewhat unrealistic, the horror of knowing a child so young must be left alone, unattended, lost, and left to fend for not only herself, but also her little brother in answer to abruptly becoming an orphan without full knowledge of this, is painfully harrowing, a force that will coerce almost any reader to continue to read on.

The heart of the book is in its travesty and loss, a child’s lucid memory, her passionate attachments, the immediacy of her self-preservation, the innocence of her deductions, and the way in which children are brutally candid, and exceptionally thoughtful in their awareness, unbashful in their displays of love and affection.

Which is why children are so easily beloved—they are the uncensored selves we as adults painfully grown out of. And why it is equally horrific to witness the news of a child in danger, which is what propels this book forward.

To read the rest of my review, you're more than welcome to visit my blog, The Bibliotaphe Closet at: http://zaraalexis.wordpress.com

- Zara ( )
  ZaraD.Garcia-Alvarez | Jun 6, 2017 |
(Literary Fiction, Canadian)

(True story:) In October of 1991, a pair of campers was attacked & killed by a black bear in Algonquin National Park, in northern Ontario, Canada. Author Claire Cameron was a counsellor at a summer camp at Algonquin that year. “The Bear [the novel] is based on my memories of and research into this bear attack. I added the kids.”

(The novel) is told through the eyes and voice of five year old Anna, one of those kids. She and her two year old brother Stick are the survivors of an attack that kills their parents.

With her dying words, her mother tells Anna to leave the island in a canoe, and thus begins the children’s sojourn alone through the vast wilderness that is Algonquin. The tension as the children suffer through each tribulation (hunger, thirst, mosquitos, shelter, and so on) rises steadily. I couldn’t put this down.

Read this if: you want to know if the children survived; or you think you ever want to go wilderness camping.

4 stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Dec 5, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031623012X, Hardcover)

A powerfully suspenseful story narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother after a brutal bear attack.

While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, 300 pounds of fury, is attacking the family's campsite, pouncing on her parents as prey.

At her dying mother's faint urging, Anna manages to get her brother into the family's canoe and paddle away. But when the canoe dumps the two children on the edge of the woods, and the sister and brother must battle hunger, the elements, and a dangerous wilderness, we see Anna's heartbreaking love for her family--and her struggle to be brave when nothing in her world seems safe anymore.

Told in the honest, raw voice of five-year-old Anna, this is a riveting story of love, courage, and survival.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:19 -0400)

"A powerfully suspenseful story narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother after a brutal bear attack. While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, 300 pounds of fury, is attacking the family's campsite, pouncing on her parents as prey. At her dying mother's faint urging, Anna manages to get her brother into the family's canoe and paddle away. But when the canoe dumps the two children on the edge of the woods, and the sister and brother must battle hunger, the elements, and a dangerous wilderness, we see Anna's heartbreaking love for her family--and her struggle to be brave when nothing in her world seems safe anymore. Told in the honest, raw voice of five-year-old Anna, this is a riveting story of love, courage, and survival"--… (more)

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