Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Bound for Home

Hashimoto, Meika. Bound for Home
May 17th 2022 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Emi's mother has recently died of cancer, and her father had died in a lobster boating accident before she was born. After several unsuccessful foster placements, she has landed with Meili and Jim. They live in a wooded area in Maine, and take Emi to pick out a dog from the local shelter. She picks Max, who has been there the longest and has a tendency to run away. Max, whose perspective we also hear, has been abandoned by his family when they were expecting a baby. He still has a tendency to run, although Emi and her foster parents are trying to teach him to stay. On some of his briefer forays into the woods, he meets Red, a cat who was left behind by her family and who has decided she likes being wild. Emi tries to keep Max in line (one of his many eccentricities is his insistence on peeing right in the threshold of her room every morning), and learns to get along with Meili and Jim, who are very glad to have her. When family circumstances are about to change, Emi decides to head out on her own to survive in the woods with Max. This goes poorly, since she is ill-equiped, and both she and Max suffer injuries and privations. They do find a cabin, and don't perish, but eventually have to decide if they want to return home and make a life with Meili and Jim. 
Strengths: Like Hashimoto's The Trail (2017), this is a solid adventure book with good details about surviving in the wilderness. Emi was a sympathetic character who was struggling to feel loved and wanted, and her reaction to Meili and Jim's news was not overly unrealistic. I liked that she wasn't really running away from any mistreatment, and that she liked being with them; it was a preemptive measure based on her previous life experiences. Meili briefly mentions how difficult it is to be of Asian descent in predominately white Maine, and the fact that the two of them had each other was a brief moment of light. Max and Red have very distinct personalities, and the chapters from their perspectives added an interesting element to the survival aspect. 
Weaknesses: There was a lot of grim hunting for food and getting injured, which is completely realistic, but got somewhat repetitive. What's the good of running away if there aren't some awesome Boxcar Children moments of cooking your own food and seeing the sun set spectacularly? Although as an adult, I guess I should be grateful the experience of running away isn't glorified. I guess I wanted some glorification!
What I really think: This made me think of Burnford's The Incredible Journey (1960) and the movie version (1963), which I remember watching on the Wonderful World of Disney as a child. It's a great choice for readers who liked Behrens' Disaster Days, Pyron's A Pup Called Trouble, or some of Jennifer Li Shotz's more adventuresome dog titles. 
 Ms. Yingling

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