Vanderpool, Clare. Navigating Early. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2013.
After Jack's mother dies, his father places him in a boarding school in Maine. Jack befriends Early, a strange boy who lives in a custodian closet and makes up stories about the number Pi. Early's brother was killed in World War Two just a couple of years ago, and Early is convinced that his brother is just missing, so if Pi ends, then his brother will die, too. One holiday break, Jack and Early go on an adventure to find the great black bear along the Appalachian Trail.
This was an okay book. Vanderpool has a beautiful writing style, so I am sure there are people who love her work, but I found it difficult to believe that no one at the school was bothered by the fact that Jack and Early just disappeared for the entire break, with no mention of them signing out or any adults checking in on them, etc. And Early's story about Pi got a bit annoying to me. I started skimming the chapters where it was Pi's story, just so I could get back to the actual story. Supposedly this book is a Newbery contender this year, probably because of the author's award-winning work, Moon over Manifest. Since the Newbery is chosen for beautiful writing and not for kid-appeal, I could see this happening.
Recommended for: tweens, historical fiction fans
Red Flags: some minor violence during their adventure
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars