Summary: 365 Days to Alaska
Rigel has 365 days to Alaska. After her parents split up, her mom moves Rigel and her two sisters from their Alaskan bush living to Connecticut where their grandmother lives. At first, Rigel hates it in the Connecticut suburbs, even though her sisters seem to be having a better time. They’re excited about the comforts of running water, a television, and malls, among other things. But Rigel yearns for the quiet of bush life, wants to return to the simplicity of hunting animals for food, and being with her dad. So her father promises her that in a year, when he’s earned a bit of money from working, Rigel can return to live with him in Alaska.
At school, Rigel feels overstimulated and struggles to make friends or enjoy the atmosphere. The kids laugh at her bush stories and don’t understand why she calls her parents by their first names. Eventually, she bonds with a crow that she begins to feed regularly behind the school, and she does begin to make friends with some kind misfits at school. As time goes by, Rigel learns that sometimes things don’t go as planned — and maybe that’s not so bad after all.
I really loved this story. Rigel and her stubborn ways won my heart. I enjoyed both the Alaska and Connecticut scenes, and I could totally understand Rigel missing her home. This is also a strong family-centered middle-grade book because we spend a fair amount of time with Rigel’s mom, grandma and sisters and the sister dynamic and general family banter was heartwarming. Rigel’s relationship with her father is also complicated, and many kids with divorced parents will relate with the back and forth between both of them.
A major part of this story is Rigel’s friendship with the crow which she names Blueberry. Besides feeding the crow, she also cares for it while it’s injured and it eventually triggers the story’s climax. Her friendship with Corey and the other kids is sweet and heartwarming, and so authentically written. I also liked all the middle school drama with the popular girls, issues with teachers, and other school-related things that form a huge chunk of the story.
Overall: 365 Days to Alaska
365 Days to Alaska is an engaging middle-grade debut with a strong, memorable female protagonist. This is one of those books that feels timeless, heartfelt, and inspiring. If you enjoy realistic fiction that feels true to life, with feel-good family dynamics, including sisterhood, sweet grandparent relations and healthy middle-school friendships, this is an excellent choice. Again, I can’t reiterate enough how useful it will be for kids whose parents are separating or divorcing as well as those who enjoy middle-grade books about animals. Highly recommend!
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read this book or any other middle-grade books set in Alaska? What are your favorite middle-grade books about moving?
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365 Days Giveaway (CLOSED)
Author Cathy Carr is giving away a copy of her debut novel, 365 Days to Alaska to one of my readers! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment about why you’d like to read this book. The giveaway winner will be contacted via email on January 20, 2021.