Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, is the first book in the Hatchet series. It is about a boy named Brian who is struggling with his parents' divorce. The story begins with Brian in a small plane, just him with the pilot, heading to Canada to stay with his father for the summer. Unfortunately, the pilot has a heart attack, which leaves Brian alone. Alone. The plane goes down into a lake in the forested wilderness of northeastern United States, and all Brian has to survive is the hatchet that his mother gave him right before he left. Being a 13-year old from the city, he must learn how to stay alive by finding shelter, food, and hope.

I read this book when I was a boy, loved it, and still love it now. The nerve-wracking sense of suspense with the ups and downs that Brian learns throughout the story really helps the reader connect with him. I kept imagining what I would do if I was in Brian's situation. Sometimes I think it would be fun to be lost in the wilderness and see if I could survive, but Brian's adventure gives you a good idea about the harsh realities that come with being alone in the wild. Alone.

In addition to Brian surviving in the wilderness, it's also a very deep book because he deals with his parents' divorce. He also develops a sense of identity in his survival. He basically becomes a man in a span of two months and it is great fun to be a part of his journey.

P.S. - I watched the made-for-tv movie made called "A Cry in the Wild". In my opinion, it did not do the book justice and missed the character development that was the best part of the story.

--Mr. Riedl