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The Skeleton Tree: Only the Wild Survive    by Iain Lawrence order for
Skeleton Tree
by Iain Lawrence
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Iain Lawrence, winner of several literary awards and author of many excellent YA novels and series like Gemini Summer and The Jolly Stone trilogy, now brings us an Alaskan castaway adventure, The Skeleton Tree.

Twelve-year-old Chris is still grieving over his father's untimely death the previous year when his adventurous uncle Jack invites him to fly to Kodiak and sail home with him down the Alaskan coast. His mother agrees though she warns him 'to be careful of men who love danger.'

Sailing with them is a surly older boy, Frank. When the boat goes down, Chris and Frank end up in the lifeboat - and then ashore in the wilderness - together. Frank is rude, unfriendly, and constantly calls the younger boy a moron. But it takes both their sets of skills to survive.

They find an abandoned cabin, where Chris makes a pet of a raven. They search the beach for debris from a recent Japanese tsunami. And, in the woods, Chris finds a skeleton tree, with 'four wooden boxes set in the crooks of the branches' - coffins.

Time passes and a routine develops. There are dangers from wild animals, especially a grizzly bear. There are conflicts over what to do, and over the raven, who delights Chris and annoys Frank. And, over time, secrets are revealed about both their backgrounds.

I enjoyed The Skeleton Tree, an engrossing read set in a fascinating wilderness location. And don't miss the Author's Note at the back that tells us where the story came from.

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