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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

halfway to the Sky, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

I recently posted about Leap of Faith, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Since then, I have read, and liked, her halfway to the Sky. Leap of Faith was about coming to faith in God. I found no mention of worship, or faith, in this book.

I'm giving away much of the plot of this one.

So what is it about? It is about a twelve-year-old girl, trying to get over the death of her older brother from Muscular Dystrophy, and her parents' divorce. Dani tries to run away by hiking the Appalachian Trail. (Her real name is Katahdin. Her brother's was Springer. Her parents met and married on the Trail. Springer Mountain is at the Georgia end, Mt. Katahdin at the Maine end.)

Dani's mother finds her, shortly after the beginning of the Trail in Georgia. Dani has prepared carefully, buying gear, hiking clothing, and food. Her mother has come quickly, without preparation. The mother decides to walk the Trail with Dani. Dani gradually comes to understand her mother, her brother's death, her father, even her father's new wife, and herself. A friend she made early on the trail comes to let her down badly, emotionally. A new friend, an older woman who is a cancer survivor, comes to be valued by both Dani and her mother. Her father helps them both out in unexpected ways.

Because of Dani's mother's work, they cannot walk the whole Trail. However, a person who walks part of the Trail at a time is recognized as a thru-hiker, if they walk the entire Trail, just as much as one who goes the entire way at one time. They plan to walk the next section of the Trail in a year or so.

At the end of the book, Dani has a new half-brother, and agrees to baby-sit him for her stepmother. Dani and her mother sell their house, and move into a cabin closer to the Trail. (They are still in Bristol, TN, which is within easy driving distance of the Trail.)

Bradley seems to be very knowledgable about Trail hiking. The book is divided by days, and each chapter is headed by how far Dani has walked that day, how far she has gone, in total, on the Trail, and the weather. There are a lot of details about dangers and joys in hiking, gear, food, and geography. I did not find this background boring, but quite interesting.

A splendid coming-of-age and family understanding book. (Although Dani hasn't reached 14 years old by the end.)

Thanks for reading. Read Bradley.


Keetha said...

Did you ever hike the trail? I didn't, but Greg and several of his CWC buddies did on fall breaks.

Martin LaBar said...

No, I never did, and it looks like I won't, in this life, anyway. Oh, well.

Keetha said...

Cheer up - - - there are LOTS of other things you did!!!

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks. And I'm still doing a few of them . . .

Kira said...

Love this book ... It helped me win the county reading competition. Best book on the list.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for your comment, Kira, whatever county you may be in!