Paulsen, Gary. Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood. Biog. Farrar, 01/2021. 357pp. $17.99. 978-0-374-31415-6. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 7-12.
Gary Paulsen, author of Hatchet (Atheneum, 1987), offers this unusual episodic memoir written in third person about “the boy.” The first (and most engaging) half describes his idyllic years living on a farm during WW II with relatives, while the second half describes life in Manila and later back in the U.S. with his parents, who mistreat him. The story concludes with his military service. His teen years seesaw between alcoholic parents and helpful adults, such as the local librarian, who act as mentors. Paulsen achieves a nice balance of humorous anecdotes with sad or frightening passages of abuse and how he dealt with trauma.
Penny Peck, San Jose State University, iSchool