Parents' Guide to

Gone to the Woods

By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Author's harrowing memoir shows how kindness saved him.

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Gary Paulsen's most harrowing survival tale turns out to be his own, where brief interludes of kindness and love of nature get him through years as of abuse by his drunken, violent parents. Some parts of Gone to the Woods -- told in a series of third-person vignettes -- are stronger than others, but both the horrors and the moments of strength and revelatory beauty are told so compellingly that you are furiously rooting for this kid to get out and get to a good place, even when you know he did.

"Sure not safe at home. Never safe. Parents didn't know he was gone anyway and when they at last thought to punish him for running, for being a runaway -- no, Runaway -- he was already in the woods. Father said he was no good. Swore at him. Called him worthless. This from a man got so drunk he pissed his pants and didn't know it. Walked back from the liquor store with a bottle in a paper sack and wet legs and didn't even know it. ... But called the boy a worthless kid...Worthless kid who never pissed his pants and was smart enough to slip away before they knew he was gone and head for the woods."

Book Details

  • Author: Gary Paulsen
  • Genre: Autobiography
  • Topics: History
  • Book type: Non-Fiction
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: January 12, 2021
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
  • Number of pages: 368
  • Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: February 11, 2021

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