A mesmerizing memoir from a literary legend, giving readers a new perspective on the origins of Hatchet and other famed survival stories.
His name is synonymous with high-stakes wilderness survival adventures. Now, beloved author Gary Paulsen portrays a series of life-altering moments from his turbulent childhood as his own original survival story. If not for his summer escape from a shockingly neglectful Chicago upbringing to a North Woods homestead at age five, there never would have been a Hatchet. Without the encouragement of the librarian who handed him his first book at age thirteen, he may never have become a reader. And without his desperate teenage enlistment in the Army, he would not have discovered his true calling as a storyteller.
An entrancing account of grit and growing up, perfect for newcomers and lifelong fans alike, this is the famed author at his rawest and most real.
A Publisher's Weekly Best Book of 2021
An Evanston Public Library Best Book of 2021
A New York Times Best Children's Book of 2021
A TIME Magazine Best Children's Book of 2021
A People Magazine Best Children's Book of 2021
“It might seem unlikely that such an unflinching account could have an uplifting effect. Yet it does. A child may grow up in privation, and he may grow up in ease, but suffering comes to all. Through his example, Gary Paulsen models how it can be overcome.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A rich, compelling read that is emotive and expressive without forcing empathy from the reader. Both brightly funny and darkly tragic, it is fresh in its honest portrayal of difficult themes . . . Readers will fall into this narrative of succeeding against overwhelming odds amid deep trauma.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Recalls many tense and dangerous moments. Readers will find themselves turning the pages quickly to see what happens next and whether the boy survives, perhaps forgetting that this is the life story of a popular author now 81 years old.” —The Washington Post
“A riveting, hopeful survival story about personal resilience amid trauma.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Paulsen exposes his early life with raw honesty and heartwarming humor . . . This literary treasure is written for book lovers of any age . . . [A] spectacular memoir that will engage readers as intensely as his award-winning fiction.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review
“The prolific Paulsen dips into his seemingly inexhaustible well of memories to pen yet another memoir . . . Resonant themes and beautiful writing unify the memoir’s episodic structure.” —The Horn Book, starred review
“Beautifully written, Paulsen's memoir demonstrates that good can triumph over bad beginnings . . . Everybody will want to get their hands on his latest.” —Booklist
“This master of survival stories draws his audience deep into his experience, whiplashing from comfort and growth into abject neglect and on to a fulfilling adult life. This survival story, up close and personal, is one Paulsen fans will not want to miss.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Leaves you gritting your teeth and clutching the pages . . . Beautiful language . . . stunning detail . . . Haunted me as a reader.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Overall, this exciting, fast-paced title reads like fiction. The tone matches Paulsen’s style and echoes themes from his novels . . . A wonderful way to introduce middle grade and high school readers to the excitement and beauty of biographies.” —School Library Journal