MIDDLE GRADE CONTEMPORARY FICTION : 365 Days to Alaska by Cathy Carr
ABOUT THE BOOK
Eleven-year-old Rigel Harman loves her life in off-the-grid Alaska. She hunts rabbits, takes correspondence classes through the mail, and plays dominoes with her family in their two-room cabin. She doesn’t mind not having electricity or running water—instead, she’s got tall trees, fresh streams, and endless sky.
But then her parents divorce, and Rigel and her sisters have to move with their mom to the Connecticut suburbs to live with a grandmother they’ve never met. Rigel hates it in Connecticut. It’s noisy, and crowded, and there’s no real nature. Her only hope is a secret pact that she made with her father: If she can stick it out in Connecticut for one year, he’ll bring her back home.
At first, surviving the year feels impossible. Middle school is nothing like the wilderness, and she doesn’t connect with anyone . . . until she befriends a crow living behind her school. And if this wild creature has made a life for itself in the suburbs, then, just maybe, Rigel can too.
365 Days to Alaska is a wise and funny debut novel about finding beauty, hope, and connection in the world no matter where you are—even Connecticut.
Rigel's new life in Connecticut differs greatly from the life she new back in Alaska. She loved living in the bush with her father (Bear), mother (Lila), and two sisters, Willow and Izzy. After discovering Lila's plan to move herself and the girls to Connecticut to live with her own mother, Rigel makes a deal with Bear that she hopes will get her back to Alaska in 365 days. As the days go by, Rigel surprises herself by making friends, first with a crow she calls Blueberry and then with some other middle school students. But things are challenging too, with a teacher she doesn't get along with, some mean girls, and homesickness for Alaska. Will she make it back to Alaska or will she find that there are good things in Connecticut also?
Rigel's a likable character who faces some real challenges as she comes to terms with her parents' divorce and her new living situation. The relationships she has both old and new provide an interesting backdrop for her determination to return to Alaska. And her connection with the crow made for a nice subplot. Rigel's struggles are believable and easy to empathize with as she inadvertently finds herself in trouble more than once resulting in some rather amusing happenings. The book felt like coming home to old friends, compelling enough to keep reading, but relaxing enough to curl up with. Highly recommended.