Wilderness

Written by Roddy Doyle

Scholastic Booktalk

No one ever expects their mother to disappear, just vanish with no warning and no way to find her.

You think your mother will always be there for you, take care of you, love you.  And then one day, she isn't.  She's gone and you don't know where, and you don't know how to find her.

Johnny was 12 and Tom was 10 when their mother disappeared.  It was supposed to have been a fun adventure, a winter snow safari in Finland, driving teams of huskeys across the wilderness.  And it was fun, until their mother, Sandra, disappeared.  All the sleds had pulled up to the cabin, and Johnny and Tom helped unhitch, feed and water the dogs.  When they were finished, they looked for their mother and her dogs.  They were nowhere to be seen.  And the boys thought about Hastro, the rogue dog on her team, with one blue and one brown eye, a rebel who wanted to be the lead dog.  Had he really gone rogue, wild and out of control, taking their mother with him?  The search began almost immediately, but it's thirty or more degrees below zero, it's dark, and they're in the middle of a vast wilderness.  Will they ever see their mother again?

Meanwhile their half-sister, Grainne, had lost her mother when she was about six.  Her parents had had a huge fight the night before, but everything seemed normal the next morning.  Her mother made Grainne's lunch for school, helped her with her coat, walked her to school, and kissed and hugged her goodbye.  It was the last time Grainne saw her mother for 13 years.  But now, when Grainne was eighteen, all of a sudden she did come back.  And she wanted to see and talk to her daughter.  How do you make up for thirteen years of silence, of questions, of changes, of lives unshared?

Johnny and Tom, the two brothers, have lost their mother, at the same time as their half-sister, Grainne, has found hers.  What will their three lives be like now?

This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.