Alabama Moon by Watt Key
A ten-year-old boy knows only his father and the most rudimentary elements of survival in the Alabama forest until the day he has to bury his own father. His father’s dying words instruct him to make his way to Alaska. There he will be able to find and live with others who hate the government as his father has and who can also survive in the wilderness. So begins the boy’s discovery of his own mind and his own heart. Though Moon Blake has only known the extremist ideology of his father, he has known love. This knowledge is his north star as he negotiates an entirely new world and begins to shape his own ideas.
This is an extremely well-told tale that reads like a dream. Filled with survival lore, the story unfolds from the first person perspective of Moon, a welcome and richly-drawn new hero to the field of literature. The plot includes a suitably grotesque villain, an impossible task, true friendship, and ultimate redemption.
Entirely appropriate for middle school readers, this book will appeal mostly to boys, but it is such a great story I am recommending it for girls who like tales of survival and adventure, children younger than middle school who are already comfortable with reading, younger high school students, and parents who like the opportunity to enjoy reading a book their children are reading. I for one had not been as moved by the noble and endearing spirit of a young protagonist for more decades than I like to acknowledge.