Summary: The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry
Juniper and her family live off the grid, and she loves it. Her mom has warned her that life in “society” is stressful, but Juniper’s older sister still wants to try living there. Unfortunately, regardless of the family’s desires, they all have to move to the nearest town when their youngest family member becomes seriously ill. Juniper’s dad even has to work to pay the hospital bills while the girls live with their uncle and his daughters, with surprising outcomes for Juniper and her family.
This is my first time reading anything by this duo, and I’m so impressed by their ability to craft characters that leap off the pages. Juniper is such a strong, memorable protagonist, and this is one of those stories that is imprinted in my mind. Off-the-grid living is becoming more popular for various reasons. Juniper’s parents choose it to protect their kids from societal influences and peer pressure, and while their choice is valid and perhaps helpful in some ways, it’s a double-edged sword when Juniper has to re-integrate into society — even temporarily: School is tough for her, and her off-the-grid lifestyle has prepared her to have a mind of her own.
At school, the other kids treat Juniper like a weirdo for climbing trees and not understanding references to common things like computers. Her cousin doesn’t even want to be seen with her — she prefers to hang out with the kids who bully her. Still, I enjoyed hearing Juniper’s observations about social circles and how/why they exclude certain people. She also observes the way her sister changes, embracing society’s ways more than she ever expected.
Juniper wants to help her dad pay the bills, so she gets a job helping a neighbor with her garden and starts a YouTube channel to teach people about the woods, which leads to more bullying but also heartwarming surprises. I loved all the little connections between Juniper’s life and her those of her family members. It’s also very satisfying that readers see why Juniper’s mother is so adamant about staying in the woods and there’s plenty to discuss about isolation vs community.
- Death: None
- Alcohol/substance abuse: None
- Parental abandonment: Juniper’s grandmother is mentioned to have abandoned her kids
- Illness: Juniper’s brother, Hawk, is very ill for most of the story
- Ethnic: Most characters cued white
- Sexual orientation: None
Recommended for ages: 9+
Good for kids who like:
- Quirky protagonists
- Wholesome family stories
- Funny books
- Sibling stories
- 365 Days to Alaska by Cathy Carr
“This book is about a young girl named Juniper Berry who lives in the woods. But one day, her brother gets sick, and she and her family have to go back to society. I personally liked the perspective of society from Juniper. I agreed with much of it, and it was enjoyable to watch her journey reconnecting with a whole new world for her. What I took away a lot from this book was friendship and connection, and all of the many flaws in our modern ways of life.”
Dante, Age 12
|Publisher details||Shadow Mountain|
|Author:||Chad Morris & Shelly Brown|
|Publication date:||August 15, 2023|
|Cover artists | Designer:|