A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Much of the plot involves a crew of volunteers working to clean up the water and repair the environmental wreckage caused by the recently ended war, so there's a lot of detail about taking water samples, restoring biomes -- and, crucially, treatment for heavy metal poisoning. As the story opens, Peter has finished building himself a cabin and devotes lots of attention to getting the details right and describing the process.
Strong messages of respect for nature, the environment, animals, and people. Also very strong message of recovery, restoration, and rebuilding in the wake of physical, emotional, or environmental harm. Much of the story involves the struggle of dealing with loss by refusing to bond with anyone or anything ever again -- and how that turns out not to work so well. Forgiveness, family, friendship all matter.
Positive Role Models
At 13, Peter is so traumatized by the events in Book 1 that he consciously works to quash any glimmer of love or kindness, especially where his lost fox is concerned. But thanks in part to Pax, the fox, and in part to wise older teens, he learns to reconnect, love, and be there when he's needed. Seen in flashbacks, his long-dead mom is a lively, loving presence. His father, now dead, has caused most of the trauma in Peter's life but also managed to show kindness and self-sacrifice when it mattered. A woman war veteran who took Peter in shows steadfast support and kindness.
Violence & Scariness
As in Pax, much of the violence is emotional but very intense and damaging. Peter is so determined never to love or need anyone or anything ever again that when he even thinks about his lost fox, he forces himself to mentally relive the long-ago moment when he saved baby Pax -- and imagines he let him die or killed him instead of saving him.The recently ended war has caused catastrophic loss to many characters. In its wake, there's also catastrophic environmental damage -- like the lake that's been poisoned by one of the warring factions and eventually poisons a vulnerable character. A predator attacks Pax's daughter and he comes to the rescue with his teeth. A teen plans to kill an animal "for its own good" but comes to question the idea.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two young adult characters are a loving couple and eventually marry. They are not seen doing anything more racy than holding hands, hugging, sitting close together, putting hands on each other's knees, etc. As the story opens, the first babies of Pax and his mate Bristle are being born.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult characters drink alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pax: Journey Home is the sequel to Pax, Sara Pennypacker's searing story of a boy and his fox separated by circumstance and betrayal in a dystopian, war-torn world. A year has gone by in which the war is over but the catastrophic damage lingers, both in the external world of nature and people, and inside the traumatized heads of the survivors. Separated from his beloved Pax, 13-year-old Peter works very hard to batter any flicker of emotion into extinction and seeks only isolation. Pax, meanwhile, has a family of his own. Their paths are destined to converge, and love is destined to win, but it's often a harrowing tale that effectively makes the reader feel a lot of the helpless outrage and despair in the situation. For example there's a scene where a fox and his baby daughter are innocently frolicking in a lake, not knowing it's been polluted with toxins that will soon poison her. There's a lot of emotional struggle, a lot of suspense, a lot of making the best of deeply flawed situations -- and a lot of light and love breaking through.
Is It Any Good?
This captivating tale of triumph in a deeply flawed world honors the struggle to deal with the catastrophic damage you've suffered and find healing. And it's enriched with illustrations by Jon Klassen that bring the characters, their world, and their emotions to life. Author Sara Pennypacker's Pax, wasn't meant to have a sequel, but, she says, the characters wouldn't let her go -- and that's a good thing. Readers of Pax: Journey Home will be gripped by Peter's emotional turmoil, the perils facing Pax and his family, the challenges of rebuilding a world torn apart by senseless violence -- and the characters they meet along the way.
"'Going to start living on your own. By yourself. Nobody to care about, nobody caring about you, right? No one else will get in,' she said...
"Peter didn't answer. Of course he thought that. That was exactly what he wanted to happen.
"'But it doesn't work that way. That won't make you safe. It will kill you... No, you won't stop breathing or anything like that, but you'll stop living, in ways that are important, anyway...
"'Besides,' Jade said, 'good luck with that. Someone will get in. A little sliver of caring. The tiniest crack in your shell is all it takes You won't even see it coming."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.