Monday, March 11, 2013

Navigating Early - Clare Vanderpool

What an odd book... A coming of age story that incorporates math, mythology, a smattering of mid-20th century history, and backwoods adventure.  About two thirds through the book I flipped to the end.  I was afraid that one thing was going to happen.  Sigh, something else happened and I could continue to find out how.

In Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool, Jack is the new kid at a boarding school on the coast of Maine.  He comes from Kansas but his father is stationed in Maine.  His mother has just died.  His father is a stranger having been in the service during the War (WWII).  Jack has never seen the ocean - ever.

Somehow, the weirdest kid in school, Early Auden, catches Jack's imagination.  Early doesn't bother to come to classes and when he does, he often leaves in the middle.  But he doesn't bother anyone so no one bothers, or bothers with, him.  He doesn't seek Jack out but he does help Jack.  So when Jack's father has to cancel a visit during Spring break, Jack joins Early on a quest to follow the Early-created mythical journey of the number Pi.

Pi's story reminds the reader of the travels of Odysseus, with shipwrecks, weird old women, pirates and more.  And Early's quest into the north Maine woods is every bit as exciting. There are some strange people out there in Main lumber country.

The ending was not what I expected.  Early was not what I expected.  Even Jack surprised me a time or two.  Good book, good adventure, good writing.  I approve!

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