While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, three hundred pounds of fury, is attacking the family’s campsite — and pouncing on her parents as prey.
At her dying mother’s faint urging, Anna manages to get her brother into the family’s canoe and paddle away. But when the canoe runs aground on the edge of the woods, the sister and brother must battle hunger, the elements, and a wilderness alive with danger. Lost and completely alone, they find that their only hope resides in Anna’s heartbreaking love for her family, and her struggle to be brave when nothing in her world seems safe anymore.
This is a story with a small narrator and a big heart. Cameron gracefully plumbs Anna’s young perspective on family, responsibility, and hope, charting both a tragically premature loss of innocence and a startling evolution as Anna reasons through the impossible situations that confront her.
Lean and confident, and told in the innocent and honest voice of a five-year-old, THE BEAR is a transporting tale of loss — but also a poignant and surprisingly funny adventure about love and the raw instincts that enable us to survive.
The Bear: A Novel by Claire Cameron
After reading this book I decided that nobody ever, EVER again gets to joke about the dangerous creatures in Australia! The Bear is – disturbingly – based on a true story, though the children are a fictional addition.
I’m a squeamish person, and even though I really wanted to read this book, I wasn’t sure I’d cope with it very well. No way did I want to read about two adults being eaten by a bear, but then… I also sort of did…
Is this book gruesome? I’m guessing most people will say it isn’t, but for me it was pushing it. I think the thing that really helped was that the story is told from the perspective of a five-year-old girl who can’t properly comprehend what is happening. The yuckiest parts are told with some confusion around them, told sort of vaguely. Of course your adult mind is going to put two and two together, but I coped!
It’s incredibly ambitious of the author to write from such a difficult point of view. I actually didn’t think I was going to get through it at first because it takes you a few pages to adjust to a child’s voice and a child’s thought process. I think she pulled it off, though, and I ended up thinking it was pretty damn clever.
The interaction between sister and little brother seemed realistic to me; these are very small children. I did read a review that said it was a good thing it was a short book because it would have been hard to reach much more from the child’s perspective, and I’d agree with that. However, I also don’t think there needed to be more – it would have lessened the impact of the story.
Was The Bear worth reading? I’d say yes. It creeped me out, but I’m glad I managed to read it.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.