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!
Buy This Book
Have you read this book or any other middle-grade books set in Alaska? What are your favorite middle-grade books about moving?
More Book Reviews
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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.
I’ve read the book and enjoyed it, but I’d love a copy for my students, since my budget is strained trying to cover pandemic book losses!
Kate McCue-Day says
I got this book yesterday at Barnes and Noble..shhh they put it out before its release date! I can’t wait to read it!! I was immediately sold on the cover.
Afoma Umesi says
Oh yay!! Lol I’m excited for you – enjoy!
Galiah Morgenstern Lotwin says
I keep hearing ppl raving s out this book! I’d love to read it!
This sounds so good, especially the friendship with the crow and seeing the differences between her life in Alaska and in Connecticut and how she adjusts.
I have been reading a lot about this book and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for the post and the chance to win.
Jennifer’s Ross says
I’ve been wanting to read this book because I’ve heard a lot of great things. More importantly I’m a teacher who loves to keep up with books to book talk/share with students. Lastly, I’m fascinated with living in Alaska.
A few years ago I read Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Dagg. It inspired me to watch a documentary on the settling of Alaska during the Depression. It was history I had never known about.
Beth Gousman says
My fifth grader loves animal stories and contemporary fiction. I’d let her read it first, then review for purchase fir my elementary school library
Kelly Torres says
I am from Alaska, so the title immediately caught my attention. I am always interested in how the state is portrayed by others.
Afoma Umesi says
Oooh nice! All the best 🙂
Maria Antos says
I want more strong female protagonist stories and this one seems to be perfect! We live in a rural area and it’s nice to have a fresh perspective from that kind of point of view. And who wouldn’t love to read about a bird named Blueberry?
Kathy Vaughan says
Disruption is such a theme now and surviving and even thriving under changed circumstances. My children are seeking small bits of control in their unpredictable lives where we have been in our compound since March 2020. A book that transports them to different parts of the US they have no knowledge of would take them on a trip.
Galiah Morgenstern says
I’ve been hearing great things about this book. Would love to read