Friday, February 12, 2010

Review of Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots
by Abby McDonald
Pages: 304
Pub. Date: April 13, 2010
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
From LibraryThing Early Reviewers
My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Can a boy-hungry Jersey girl survive the wilds of Canada with her eco-identity intact? A witty new YA novel from the author of SOPHOMORE SWITCH.  Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?"

Once I saw the cover of this book, I knew I would enjoy it. I don't think I've read a YA book that has focused this much on nature. I applaud Abby McDonald as it was such a nice change of pace.  After reading a few pages, I was instantly fond of the main character, Jenna.  In my opinion, compared to many of the other female protagonists out there, Jenna is such a good role model for young women and is extremely easy to relate to.  When Jenna arrives in Canada, it's like another world for her.  Although she may be an environment activist at home, this is a whole new experience for her in Canada.  She is thrown into a new situation and must adapt.  Plus, she initially shares a room with her godmother's spiteful stepdaughter, Fiona, whom at first I'm convinced is Satan's spawn.  Jenna must also try and make friends with the locals, which proves to be a daunting task since they view her as a silly city girl.  Under all this is the sub plot of her parents and their possible impending divorce.  I think that many young adults will really appreciate this book's message, but also enjoy the fun experiences that Jenna is involved in, such as white water rafting, hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing and rock climbing.  And of course, there are ruggedly handsome Canadian boys.

There are a few things that I especially liked about this book.  I loved Abby McDonald's references to a book that Jenna finds at a quirky bookstore. It's called the Modern Mountain Man's Survival Guide.  Throughout the novel, McDonald references various parts of this Survival Guide, which can be applied to everyday life and not just hunting.  This Survival Guide becomes Jenna's bible not only when dealing with wildlife, but also with people.  I thought this was a great touch.  I also loved the fact that Jenna was a strong female character.  It's not often we see this in YA literature.  Without giving too much away, Jenna becomes even more admirable when contrasted with her best friend, Olivia.  Olivia defines herself by her boyfriend, which unfortunately happens a lot in high school and she essentially takes Jenna's friendship for granted.

Finally, this novel covers many life lessons and ultimately leaves Jenna thinking about the path she is on and her own belief system.  Many of her beliefs are challenged and she is asked to think from a different point of view.  Jenna essentially learns about herself through this experience.  I sigh happily, because isn't that what all good young adult novels should do?  With that said, I think that this book is the perfect accessory to any beach bag or trip to summer camp.  It's the epitome of an enjoyable summer read.
To learn more about Abby McDonald, check out her website:


  1. So glad you liked this one! I just got a copy of it last week and can't wait to get started. Sounds like something I would love, too, and the environmental issues are an interesting plot point!

  2. Awesome review! This one sounds great! It seems like a fun read,

  3. OMG, so jealous that you got to read this one so early!!! I've read Abby's previous two books and loved both so I really can't wait for this one!


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