Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood — Review

Thought for the Day:

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”
~ William Faulkner ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Melissa Donovan at Writing Forward has a great post HERE that explains What’s the Difference Between Dashes and Hyphens. I discovered I don’t always use them correctly.

I found a wonderful post HERE at Reedsyblog entitled How to Write Natural Dialogue in 11 Steps. Don’t miss this one.

Pacing in a novel is so important. Janice Hardy at Fiction University has a great post HERE with Tips to Understand and Control Your Novel’s Pacing.

With so many people getting their vaccinations, things are starting to open up. My grandson left for college in Minnesota in August of 2019, and we haven’t seen him since. It’s been really hard. I miss him so much. Anyway, his boss told him to take a few days off this week, so he put on his mask and home he came. (Vaccinated or not, we still need our masks!) And I got to hug him. He’s grown up so much! He hasn’t had a haircut since he left, and has gorgeous red hair that is longer than mine. Anyway, it has been a great couple of days since he arrived. He will only be here a few days, so I am soaking up as much time as I can with him.

Last week I offered a gently-read ARC of Alone by Megan E. Freeman to one of you. This week’s winner is Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner. Congratulations, Donna! I will get your book out to you soon. If you don’t know Donna, she is, according to her blog, “an adventure seeking ponderer of the mysteries of the universe, writer of children’s books.” She always has something interesting on her blog. You can find it HERE.

I mentioned a few weeks ago I was reading a memoir, a rare thing to find in MG books. I was very excited to find that Gary Paulsen had written a memoir since I am a big fan of his books. Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood certainly is an interesting read, but I think it is really only appropriate for the oldest, most sophisticated of middle-grade readers, but Paulsen has a lot of fans who are older (like me) that will find this a fascinating read. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review.

Gary Paulsen is pretty much the king of middle-grade fictional survivor stories: stark, compelling, and absolutely fascinating for readers young and old. But for this book, he is stepping away from fiction, telling the story of his own difficult and frightening childhood. His mother is a world-class drinker and uses her very young son to meet men. But for a short time, the boy is sent to live with a wonderful aunt and uncle on a farm in northern Minnesota. It is the best time of his young life but doesn’t last nearly long enough. His mother comes and takes him to Manila, Philippines to meet his father. There, his parents do little but drink and fight, leaving the boy on his own. It’s the same when they return stateside, and the boy learns to fend for himself.

Gary Paulsen

Paulsen takes an interesting turn in writing this memoir in third-person point-of-view, referring to himself has “the boy.” Perhaps it’s a way to distance himself from the pain of his upbringing. No doubt his childhood was horrific, and he pulls no punches. This might be better for YA readers than middle-grade, but it’s very good.

I have no giveaway this week since I will donate the nice hardback copy I got to the school. Don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

24 thoughts on “Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood — Review”

  1. Personally, I have a thing for em darkness, I think I think in email dashes. Good article. And I think I heard a recent interview about Gary Paulsen on a NPR show, which one., I’m not sure. But it was interesting in his explanation of the third person narrative for a memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your description of Paulen’s life is seen in many of his books. His past has made him the author he is today. Sounds like a fascinating read. Since I haven’t read the book, I would be interested in knowing more about why he chose to write “the boy” in third person. Great review!

    Glad you finally got to see your grandson!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoy the time with your grandson and say hello for me. I’m working with a boy right now who is going through much the same with his family as Paulsen’s book describes. I will recommend this to him. Thanks for the links. With my busy week, it will be a few days before I can delve into them. Thanks for your feature on today’s MMGM.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So sad that kids have to deal with these kinds of problems, but lucky for him to have you in his corner. Thanks for reading and commenting. I know how busy you are, so I really appreciate it.


  4. I’m a huge fan of Paulsen. This sounds really good, even though it sounds tough to read. Thanks for the links! I really liked the dialogue one.
    Enjoy this precious time with your grandson!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As usual, I liked the links you shared. I’m in the middle of a novel right now, and all these tips are so good to keep in mind. Like Natalie, I’m glad you got time to spend with your grandson. I know how close you have always been. Paulsen’s book sounds important, but your review of it makes me think it’s really for high-schoolers, rather than MG.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like Paulsen’s humor more than his survival. I see your point about the detached point of view, but it made the book harder to read. He’s addressed aspects of his childhood in many other books. I still bought two copies, since our 7th grade studies Hatchet.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You always share such wonderful links, Rosi! I had to pace myself to keep from dashing off to check out the one on dialogue before reading your review and thanking you for the win (and the blog plug). I’ve also been looking forward to checking out Paulsen’s memoir. Thanks for the reminder. Be well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I appreciate the chance to realize that Gary Paulsen and Gary D. Schmidt are not the same author! Good to clear that up. Gone to the Woods sounds like a painful but powerful memoir, and I really appreciate you sharing it! I’m so glad you’re getting to visit with your grandson! I also love all the stuff you’ve shared this week—I definitely love em dashes in particular (as you can see)! I learned that you can type one as a single punctuation mark on Mac with Shift-Option-Hyphen—and now that I know, I can’t stop using them! Thanks for the wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for the tip on the em dash—I just tried your method and it worked! Gary D. Schmidt is just about my favorite MG author, although I do love Gary Paulsen’s work as well. Thanks for coming by and commenting.


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