This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Susan Lobban
While camping with her family on a remote island, five year old Anna is trying to sleep in her tent despite her little brother Stick’s annoying snuffling. Suddenly she hears her mother’s screams and her father is determined to get them to safety. Daylight breaks and Anna emerges from her hiding place oblivious to what has gone on the night before. Alone in the woods, Anna must look after Stick whilst battling the elements and trying to keep away from the black shadows that appear when they least expect it.
We follow the lost and bewildered children as they stumble around the scary unknown, desperate to be reunited with their parents. Five year old Anna is the narrator of this modern cautionary tale, so while the reader knows what has happened outside the children’s tent that fateful night, Anna does not. When her father races to the tent with frightening haste, Anna thinks she is in trouble and she and her brother must spend the night in the camping cooler, which she does not understand. Throughout the story, we are permanently in Anna’s head and it is a lovely innocent place to be. For instance, when morning arrives, Anna’s father’s leg is lying abandoned at the campfire, but Anna simply wonders why someone would put her father’s shoe on a piece of meat. The little girl finds her brother an annoyance, but even though she does not realize her fate, she knows that she must keep them both safe until adult guidance is restored.Anna’s internal voice was extremely accurate for her age and not once did she revert to an adult outlook, which would have made the narrative unrealistic. Despite her situation, Anna’s thoughts flit between reminders of happier times and she manages to recall every day routines, which she is convinced she will experience again.
This is a sweet and touching tale, which shows that survival instinct can kick in whatever your age. I would hope that, God forbid, were my own children placed in a life or death situation, that they would pull together like the siblings in this book. The Bear is a vividly descriptive read with tension that builds and builds and where a good outcome cannot be predicted.