Book Review: The Devil’s Pass

The NH Isinglass Teen Read Award Committee recently unveiled the nominee list for 2015-16.  All of these titles were recommended by 7th and 8th graders in NH, and then reviewed and narrowed down to a list of 12 titles by professional public and school librarians.  I’ll be presenting the list throughout the year and I hope you find something interesting for yourself or your students to read.

devilspassThe Devil’s Pass by Sigmund Brouwer touches on some very tough issues – step-parents, abuse, self-discipline, bullying, respect for wilderness – that focus around building a young person’s character. 17-year-old Webb escapes abuse from his step-father by living on the streets of Toronto and making a few bucks playing guitar, but when his grandfather, David McLean, dies, he leaves behind an unusual Will that outlines seven tasks he has set for his seven grandsons.  Each task is tackled in one of the seven books in the Seven Series, and each book is written by a different author who highlights different themes.  The books can be read in any order and are great choices for reluctant and accomplished readers alike who are drawn to exciting adventures and solid storytelling.

Webb is charged with traveling north and hiking the Canol Trail to solve a 50-year old mystery. His travel companions are a native guide, two German tourists and his guitar.  Webb is confronted by tough choices along the way. He’s a very likable character and I appreciated seeing his struggle between his choices – it wasn’t overdone or stretched out.

Brouwer writes well within the Orca structure; the story is simple and powerful. Webb’s passion for music and fondness for his grandfather are nice details that balance the adventure with compassion.  Suggest this for reluctant readers who are willing to travel from the top of Kilimanjaro to the bottom of the Mediterranean.

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