Next up: “My Side of the Mountain” by Jean Craighead George
Another children’s book by George. This came out in ’59, and several sequels were published in the 90s. I’ve only read this one.
This is largely a survivalist story, where-in a 12-year-old boy lives alone in the wilderness, catching his own food, making everything he needs out of things he finds in the forest. He’s not completely cut off from civilization, however, and several times uses a nearby town’s library to supplement his knowledge about survival skills. He also makes a few friends when people chance upon his campsite in the forest, when he trains a peregrine falcon, and when he releases a weasel from one of his traps.
The themes in the book include themes of independence, but also of loneliness. The main character, Sam, is very resourceful and his development and maturation over the course of the story has prompted critical praise.
I think a lot of kids entertain the fantasy of running away from home and living off the land. It’s the fantasy of complete independence. Personally, I also liked the idea of not having to interact with people every day– I was a very introverted child (and am a very introverted adult) and was kind of jealous of Sam’s ability to go for weeks without seeing another human, let alone having to speak with one. It sounded so peaceful. This book generated a lot of daydreams for me, thinking about what I would have done in the same situation, what I would have done differently. I really enjoyed reading it, and some parts have stuck with me for quite a while. For example, I still remember how Sam made his wood fish hook.