Little Brown - Hachette Audio - 2014
Based on an actual incident that took place in 1991, this novel tells the story of a family camping trip on a remote Island in Canada which turned deadly. In the middle of the night the children hear shouting by their parents. Anna, the oldest child, who is almost 6, thinks that her father is yelling at her because she was “being bad", when suddenly her dad grabs them and puts them inside of their giant Coleman cooler and telling them to stay there and be quiet.
A black bear then begins attacking the mother and father, while the little children are hiding in the cooler. The father is literally eaten alive, the bear leaving pretty much just a leg behind. With the cooler lid slightly ajar, allowing for minimal site lines to the outside, it appeared that the children did not know what was happening. Anna later tells that she saw a “black dog” with tomato juice on its paw approach the cooler and looked like he was crunching on a bone. When the children on longer hear any sounds just open the cooler, hearing their mother's whispers to for Anna to take their canoe, and her younger brother, Alex (Stick) and paddle away to safety.
What happens next is the story of how two very young children (one just 3 and still in diapers) alone in the woods struggle to survive, battling the elements and fighting off hunger with a container of cookies as basically their only food.
The story is told by innocent little Anna, and her voice sounds so honest and alive. Anna’s version of what might have happened is so different to the truth. They way that she projects her feelings of loss, abandonment and confusion were difficult to listen to at times. She used her beloved teddy bear Gwen as a sounding board for many of her emotions and her thoughts about things she really is too little to understand.
This is a relatively short novel and fortunately the children are eventually rescued, but it is definitely one of those stories, like Room by Emma Donoghue, where the young narrator makes a huge impression on the reader. The author worked as a camp counselor at the time the actual incident occurred, and based her book on her recollection of the actual event. The frightening thing was that the couple appeared to be seasoned campers and did not do anything that might have drawn the bear to their campsite or to provoke it.
The audio book is read by Cassandra Morris who did an excellent job.
(audio - provided by publisher)