Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Avalanche by Arthur Roth is a book I remember reading in grade school. I recently found it again after a post on the LiveJournal community whatwasthatbook. Very useful comm, that one. I had good memories of the book, so I requested it from the library to read again.

So anyway, in Avalanche, fourteen year old Chris Palmer is trapped in an avalanche. What it says on the tin, basically. And what follows is a narrative that tracks Chris's time trapped beneath the snow as he tries to stay alive long enough to be rescued. There's not a lot of action, but the book is full of surprisingly interesting introspection and character development. In his mind, through memories and dreams, Chris untangles the troubled relationships he has with his mother, father, and his brother Terry. Chris, with a weak heart and scarlet fever as a child, has never felt good enough when compared to his athlete brother, and he feels that his father resents him for not being like Terry. In between flashbacks to the past, we see Chris struggle to deal with hunger, cold, and fear as the days go by.

One thing I liked about this book was that, despite it being for a younger age group, it didn't gloss over any of the darker aspects of the story. You get every carefully considered detail of what Chris does as he works to survive in the snow, and Chris even entertains the thought of taking his own life when he gets too overwhelmed. I mean, that's not something you usually see in a book that middle school kids might read. But, yeah, I liked this book. A clean, simple style, plenty going on, and Chris is a well-rounded character, with flaws and talents both, realistic, basically. Well, this is a short book, but it's very engaging and a quick read.

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