Wednesday, April 18, 2018

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Lost in the Amazon by Tod Olson


Peru, Christmas Eve, 1970.

It was supposed to be a routine flight, carrying 86 passengers across the Andes Mountains and home for the holiday. But high above the Amazon rainforest, a roiling storm engulfs the plane. Lightning strikes. A deafening whoosh sweeps through the cabin. And suddenly, 17-year-old Juliane Koepcke is alone. The plane has vanished. She is strapped to her seat and plunging 3,500 feet to the forest floor.

On Christmas Day, she wakes. She is injured, covered in mud, but strangely--miraculously--alive. And now, in a remote corner of the largest rainforest on Earth, the real battle for survival begins.


I really enjoyed the two previous Lost books by Tod Olson so I was excited to pick this one up.  I was not at all disappointed.  It lived up to my expectations in every way.  The story revolves around a Peruvian airplane flight that took off on Christmas Eve of 1970.  After crossing the Andes on it's way to a town in the Amazon rainforest, the plane ran into a dangerous thunderstorm.  Instead of flying around it or trying to get above it, the pilot took the risk of flying into the storm.  The plane is struck by lightening causing the plane to come apart in the air.  Juliane Koepcke plunges thousands of feet to the forest below, still strapped in her seat, but having lost her mother.  She woke up to find herself utterly alone and injured, and unbeknownst to her, the lone survivor.  Having grown up on her parent's experiment station in the Amazon rainforest, Juliane had some background knowledge of the plants and animals she now found herself surrounded by.  But she's got a broken collar bone and several nasty wounds, she also finds herself with only a small bag of hard candy, a single sandal, and her mini-dress for supplies.  A concussion made it difficult for her to think clearly, but her survival instincts were strong and she remembered that her father had told her stories about people who followed streams and rivers to safety after getting lost.  So she seeks out the running water she hears nearby and starts to follow it.  

But as the days pass by, Juliane finds herself getting weaker as she starts to starve and her wounds become infected.  Despite nearly giving up hope several times, she presses on.  Meanwhile, the plane has been missed and people have started to look for it.  The question is whether Juliane can find help before her body gives out and the forest takes her.  In addition to telling Juliane's story, the author presents some interesting background on the forest itself and those who've tried to explore it.  This provides a powerful backstory revealing just how dangerous the Amazon rainforest can be.  Olson has written another compelling true story that middle grade readers are bound to enjoy.  I had a hard time putting it down.

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