Nora’s therapist asks, “What do you fear?” (Dying.) and “Are you likely to die in this situation?” (Yes.)
It’s been a year since Nora and her dad lost her mother in a violent, unprovoked event. Dad has been grieving by taking Nora out of school and avoiding people; Nora doesn’t want to deal with the questions, either, and has pushed away her best friend in the process. After a year, it’s time to start healing. Dad and Nora take the Jeep to the canyon, where the family spent their lives climbing and hiking — a favorite bonding activity. To move forward, Nora and Dad must come to understand “why,” avoiding the “what-ifs” of this new life. Nora writes in her notebook to capture what was, what is, and what might be in the future.
As the father/daughter team climb through the canyon, terrible things happen. When a flash flood smashes them against a wall and sweeps her father away, Nora is left alone to face the scorpions, snakes, and The Beast. Can she use what her therapist taught her (breathe, move, hope) to find her father again, or will the canyon take what is left of her family?
Dusti Bowling is a master of words in this gripping and suspenseful new middle-grade Southwest story. Students should study the character development, writing engaging scenes, figurative language, and poetry (I love haiku, too!). Any reader who loves outdoor adventures will love this book.
Happy Book Birthday, Dusti Bowling! I’m so happy to see this book out in the world!
(September 8, 2020 from Little, Brown and Company)