365 Days to Alaska

Abrams/Amulet. Jan. 2021. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781419743801.
Gr 4-7–Eleven-year-old Rigel Harman is a happy kid who loves living off the grid with her close-knit family in Alaska. Rigel’s life looks very different from most American students; she hunts, takes correspondence classes by mail instead of attending school, and has no running water or electricity. Things change when her parents divorce, and she and her sisters move to the Connecticut suburbs with their mother to live with a grandmother they’ve never met. But Rigel has a secret pact with her father: After one year, she can come home. Rigel hates middle school and Connecticut. She misses real nature and feels out of place. She befriends a small, wounded crow living behind her school and spends her free time with it. Caring for the crow helps her make friends, reconnect with her family, and fit in while still being herself. Rigel is a fun character; she has a lot in common with average tweens trying to find their place in the world, but her experiences in Alaska may be an informative peek into different lifestyles. The story shows how a strong family structure and the willingness to ask for help can be keys to success; the book also depicts the school library as a sanctuary for students.
VERDICT This charming novel is recommended for realistic fiction fans who love nature and animals.

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