Review: Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

31 May

Candlewick Press, 2010

Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?

From Candlewick Press website


You know when it’s a nice summer day and your sitting at the beach, on the deck or by the pool and you’re looking for a fun, light summer read?  That’s exactly what Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots is. Yes, the title is a bit of a mouth full, but that’s the only super heavy thing about this book.

Jenna was a likable character, even if she did sprout off a bit too much about all things environment, at least in the beginning. As the book went on, she mellowed out and learned the very valuable life lesson that there is two sides to every story. Or in this case, every cause.

The only thing that really bugged me was Jenna’s incessant need to have the boys in the book like her. I don’t mean that she wanted every guy to fall in love with her, no. But when she was trying to make friends, she basically let them treat her like dirt and then was still trying to find ways for them to like her. I  mean, there’s no way they were the ONLY teens in the town. I totally would have told them to go jump in the lake, but that’s just me. And it may explain why I didn’t have a lot of friends as a teen.

There are some twists and turns and a bit of romance, as there should be in any self-respecting YA book. None of it felt heavy handed, though and McDonald did a great job of weaving them into Jenna’s story.

The writing style was very airy, fitting in with the overall tone of the book. I really felt like I was there in the wild with Jenna, experiencing it for the first time. Of course, as a Canadian I chuckled over some of the scenes, particularly the one with the moose. (BTW honking your horn at a moose? So not the thing to do.)

So, while I didn’t love Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots, I did like it an awful lot.

Thanks bunches to the folks at Candlewick press for the review copy.


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