The Canyon’s Edge

Little, Brown. Sept. 2020. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316494694.
Gr 4-7–Since the fateful day her mother was killed one year ago, Nora and her father have continually withdrawn further from society. Protecting their memories is how they’ve endured. While burying emotions seems to be Nora’s strength, a hiking trip in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is about to change everything. A flash flood leaves Nora alone at the bottom of a canyon; no father, no supplies, and very little hope. If she’s going to make it out alive, Nora must put her survival skills to the test and not only survive the desert, but face personal demons. Bowling delivers a poignant depiction of a young girl dealing with anxiety and PTSD. Bookended by narrative, the text transofrms seamlessly to verse in the middle (when Nora is alone in the canyon) to intensely convey Nora’s thoughts and feelings. The continued struggle over her mother’s death plays into her strife in the desert through flashbacks of therapy sessions from the past year. Forced to be alone with her thoughts, Nora battles what it means to survive versus what it means to live. As she gradually succeeds in getting out of the canyon, Nora realizes that a person is not defined by one moment, but rather, their resilience and growth over time.
VERDICT For readers who bloomed under Leza Lowitz’s Up From the Sea or Jasmine Warga’s Other Words for Home, this emotionally resonant survival tale is a must-have.

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