I’m a big fan of Dusti Bowling. (See my review of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus.) So when I heard her latest title described as Hatchet by Gary Paulsen meets Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds I was already hooked! Still – I had no idea what an emotional journey it would be.
The journey begins with nine short chapters written in masterful prose. It sets up the story of Nora and her dad going on a climbing trip in the Arizona desert. It’s the one year anniversary of a random shooting that killed Nora’s mother and Bowling provides just the right amount of background information to ground the reader in the family tragedy.
Part two of the story begins when a flash flood rips through the slot canyon, sweeping away Nora’s dad and all their supplies. Nora’s time alone in the desert is told in verse. She faces dehydration, venomous scorpions, deadly snakes, and the Beast who has terrorized her dreams for the past year. Along the way, readers find out more about how the shooting has affected Nora and cheer for her to conquer her fears and find her dad.
I won’t give away anything more but will say that part three (only one chapter long) returns to prose and provides the reader with the hope they need after sharing Nora’s journey. The Canyon’s Edge is a great survival tale and the verse is both visual and poetic. I can’t wait to read whatever Bowling writes next!