It is the summer of 1952 in New Zealand. Ruth is nearly thirteen, and she is running away from home; away from her stepfather who keeps trying to touch her, and from her mother, who doesn't seem to notice what is going on. She has no plan in her head the morning she leaves, except that she is heading for the lake where they used to spend their holidays before Dad died, the lake where she was happy. It's a long journey into the bush, and more lonely than Ruth could ever have imagined. But she is determined to survive in the wilderness; she learns the ancient Maori names of the trees from an old botany book and becomes a skilled hunter. Eventually she is befriended by Tommy, an old drifter who lives in a hollow tree-house and passes on his bush-wisdom to her. When Tommy dies, Ruth decides to return to civilization. After two years in the wild she is ready to confront her family and start over on her own terms.
Set against a dramatic outdoor background, this absorbing novel presents the story of a young girl's remarkable voyage of self-discovery.
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From School Library Journal:
JACK LASENBY is a teacher in Wellington, New Zealand where he lives. He spends each summer in the bush, fishing and hiking.
Grade 7-10-- Ruth, her parents, and younger sister Emma regularly camped at the lake in the New Zealand bush, until her father's death soon after Ruth's tenth birthday. Her mother remarries, and when she is about 13 years old, her stepfather begins to be sexually abusive and threatening. Ruth decides she must leave and runs away to the bush--and to the lake. There she not only survives but thrives and matures for over a year using her wits, her father's teachings, and the wisdom of an old man she meets. Ruth narrates this unusual story of emotional and physical survival. She is as isolated within her family as she is in the bush. The New Zealand setting is exotic and foreign, and life in the bush, often harsh, is described in graphic, sometimes gory detail. The power of dreams and local folklore is woven throughout the story to add yet another dimension and to bring the novel full circle to a plausible conclusion. It is unlikely that this complicated novel, with its small print, will have a broad audience, but it should be considered for purchase as an unusual curriculum adjunct. A glossary of New Zealand and nautical terms used appears at the end. --Maria B. Salvadore, District of Columbia Public Library
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Oxford University Press, 1989. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0195581628