Monday, October 24, 2016

All About Middle Grade Review: The Courage Test

The Courage Test by James Preller, September 13, 2016. 224 pages. Published by Feiwel & Friends. Source: ARC from publisher*.
Will has no choice. His father drags him along on a wilderness adventure in the footsteps of legendary explorers Lewis and Clark--whether he likes it or not. All the while, Will senses that something about this trip isn't quite right.

Along the journey, Will meets fascinating strangers and experiences new thrills, including mountain cliffs, whitewater rapids, and a heart-hammering bear encounter.

It is a journey into the soul of America's past, and the meaning of family in the future. In the end, Will must face his own, life-changing test of courage.

A father-and-son journey along the Lewis and Clark Trail--from Fort Mandan to the shining sea--offers readers a genre-bending blend of American history, thrilling action, and personal discovery.
First Sentence
My mother pushed me out the door, and I don't know why.

While there were aspects I enjoyed whilst reading The Courage Test, there were some things that I did not like about it. Overall, it was a pretty enjoyable read with a mixture of historical facts and the mending of a damaged relationship between a father and son.
  • Well let's start with the good things. Like that the story of Will and his father going on an adventure covering some of the trail that Lewis and Clark took; and their strained relationship that was beginning to mend as they traversed the wilderness. Even though I enjoyed their awkwardness with each other, it did get annoying at times the way Will treated his father. Sure he had a justifiable reason to be cross with his father, but, I have problems with characters that are disrespectful to their parents (I'm a military brat, so all forms of disrespect just make me cross). 
  • From a history junkie aspect, I rather enjoyed seeing them traipse through the wilderness upon the trail that Lewis and Clark took; I also enjoyed that the author included the good and bad of the history (because as we all know it was not all sun shine and roses during that journey). One thing else, not about history, the reason for this trip. I spent the entire book with a pretty strong idea behind the motivation for this trip. While I was correct in my assumption, it would have been an interesting turn of events, though maybe not as impacting, if the trip had been put into motion by something less life altering and maybe had been because he, you know, wanted to reconnect with his son. Yeah, I would have much rather seen a different motive then what was used because it would have been different.
  • What I did not enjoy about The Courage Test would have to be Will's attitude. Look I'll be honest here, I don't like characters, even when justified, who are disrespectful. It bothers me a LOT!! Well, at least Will knew he was being a jerk towards his father and at times slipped into a decent character when he was not trying to make his dad suffer. It's really rather lucky that they did not wind up dead, separated, or worse, mortal enemies by the time the book ended. 
  • I have mixed feelings about one aspect of this book; that of the girl they ended up helping. One the one hand, I was happy that they helped her because not everyone would do that. On the other hand, I felt that the backstory for her was too stereotypical for her heritage. It left me partly offended. I know I'm being vague, but I a) don't want to spoil the book and b) don't want to prejudice your thoughts on an otherwise pretty good read.
Final Verdict: The Courage Test- Just like history, there are good and bad things about this book! But you know what, it's an interesting and well written book.

The Courage Test earns

A advanced copy of this book was received in consideration for review. All thoughts are my own.

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