Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary: Nora and her dad are going for a hike on her birthday. It’s the first time they’ve gone hiking since her mother was killed by a gunman exactly a year ago when the family was celebrating Nora’s birthday at a restaurant. Her father was also injured, but the greater trauma to both of them was psychological. Nora’s ready to return to school, but her dad’s afraid to let her out of his sight. The two of them argue about it as they start their hike; seconds later, there’s a rumbling sound, and a flash flood sweeps into the canyon, washing her father away. Nora’s left on her own to survive two nights in the desert, battling snakes, scorpions, heat, thirst, and her own demons. Determined to find and rescue her dad, Nora draws on inner resources and discovers she is stronger than she’s believed for the past year. 320 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: Warning: once you pick up this novel in verse, it’s hard to put down. It’s equal parts survival tale and a story of healing from a horrific trauma, told in flashbacks as Nora grapples with nightmares and other reminders of her mother’s murder. Although it may not sound so from this description, this is a book appropriate for upper elementary kids, who will undoubtedly find it as difficult to put down as I did.
Cons: If you’re seeking a little light reading, you should probably look elsewhere.