Out of Range by Heidi Lang

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Summary:  Sisters Abby (14), Emma (12), and Ollie (9) have been sent to Camp Unplugged for two weeks by parents who are frustrated by the girls’ constant fighting.  The story opens with the three on a disciplinary hike with camp counselor Dana.  When Dana leaves them briefly to scout the area, Abby decides to turn around and head back to camp.  Soon the girls are lost and have to survive a series of life-threatening events, including Emma’s near-drowning, Abby’s bear attack, and Ollie’s ankle injury that makes walking nearly impossible.  The story alternates among the three girls’ perspectives and switches between the past and present to gradually show the reader the difficulties a move to a new home has caused them and the ensuing cruel prank war that has driven them apart.  Forced to work together to survive, the girls begin to realize that their differences are petty compared to the love they have for each other.  Includes an author’s note about her own wilderness survival story that inspired this book.  320 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Part survival adventure, part family story, this is a book that’s sure to appeal to a wide audience.  Heidi Lang does a masterful job of weaving together the different points of view and slowly revealing how events and insecurities in the past have led the girls to their current dire situation.

Cons:  I had to occasionally suspend my disbelief a bit, particularly in the miraculous rescue of Mr. Snuffles.

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