Cover Image: Northwind

Northwind

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Member Reviews

Northwind is a beautifully crafted tale of survival. While Northwind is not as “action packed” as some of Paulsen’s other survival stories, it is still grabs the reader and takes them on quite a journey.
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I received an ARC of this book for a fair review:

This is Gary Paulsen in his element (but when is he not?!). This book gives the sea the same treatment Hatchet gave the woods. A great read for any child who has finished the Hatchet series and needs more or a great updated introduction to a first time reader of Paulsen.
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As a huge fan of Gary Paulsen, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read the e-arc of the final book he wrote, and Northwind is a fitting finale to the author's illustrious writing career.

In full disclosure I must say this story is told in a dreamy and almost poetic tone. While some readers may love that, I suspect some kids who read books like Hatchet will be expecting more action and well, actual plot. The "plot" is simply that Leif is pushed out to sea in a wooden canoe as a means of avoiding the disease that is killing the other men in his group. He is directed to go north, and so he does - that's it. The rest of the book tells of his journey and his interactions with the bears, birds, whales, sea and ice. There is a bit of mythology weaved in as we hear about how Leif finds food and avoids danger. The descriptions of the sea are gorgeous. Along the way Leif learns about himself, his place in the world and how his environment influences him. It is a beautiful story beautifully told, and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

There is a thorough author's note in which Gary recalls his grandmother telling him Nordic stories of the sea when he was a child. As an adult he had the chance to learn to sail and actually spent years sailing throughout the world, so he knows what he is talking about when it comes to sailing the seas. He goes on to say that he has been working on this story for his entire life, which makes it a perfect ending to a distinguished career.

I will recommend this to kid and adult fans of Gary Paulsen with the caveat that it is more of a lush, descriptive tale than Paulsen's other survival fiction.

Thanks to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and NetGalley for the e-arc in exchange for my honest review.
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Definitely classic Gary Paulsen here. Almost no dialogue except for the inner dialogue of Leif. Perfect for fans of survivalist stories or nature stories. He paints pictures with his words. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
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In January of 2022, Gary Paulsen has a new book slated to be published – Northwind. Gary died in mid-October of this year at the age of 82. From what I read about Gary, his life was full of adventure, but also incredible early hardship. I am grateful for the gift of words that he gave to our world, and I’m grateful for the hope and inspiration he gave to so many young people throughout the years; something, it seems, lacked in his own early years. I had the pleasure of receiving an advance readers copy of Northwind, and I finished it yesterday. 

Much like Hatchet, Northwind is a survival adventure story. Leif is an orphan, raised on the wharves and ships of the Nordic coast. He is indentured to the seafaring life. A twist of fate sends him to a remote fishing village, left with other sailors to gather and dry fish to be transported for sale. For some unknown reason the few sailors in the village are forgotten, until one day a death ship drifts in and out of their remote bay, leaving behind the menace of traumatic disease. Young Leif finds himself alone, at the edge of death in the Nordic Ocean wilderness. His savior – Old Carl, told Leif to leave their village and never return; to continually head north, and Old Carl provided a small bundle to help Leif on his journey; a blanket, a small quantity of dried fish, spear points and fishhooks, as well as a canoe and paddles. Young Carl was placed in the canoe with Leif, and both suffer from the disease that has struck their remote fishing village. Young Carl succumbs to the disease, and it’s a fluke that Leif barely survives. Northwind is a lonely story filled with the beauty of extreme northern waterways, of fear and adventure, but most of all the glorious wonder of nature and what it means to be alive. Leif discovers that being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely, and despite the hardships he encounters, he learns about freedom and joy of being alive in unexpected moments. 

Northwind inspired me. It’s been on my mind since I finished it. A young boy in the wild, alone – nothing but a small canoe and some meager possessions. He encounters hunger, bears, whales, dolphins – wild whirlpools, strange blue ice and he continually battles the challenge of finding food to eat. There are moments when he discovers true joy and peace and believes everything might be alright; then, along would come another set-back. I like the prose style of writing, and the shorter chapters with plenty of white space will not easily intimidate young readers. I consider this book to be a truly fitting final adventure given to the world by Gary Paulsen. 

For me, the inspiration is in the attitude of this young boy. He is afraid, often, but he does not allow it to consume him. He learns lessons from each hardship he encounters, and he adapts these lessons into doing a task better in the future. Leif becomes fatalistic; he learns that whatever is meant to be, will, and his worry will not change anything. It’s a hard and beautiful lesson to learn, but the most important message in this book, to me, is the hope it instills. We can do nothing in life without hope and belief that just around the next bend in the river is the next best thing in life.
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Gary Paulsen's books always capture my imagination and my heart.  The main character has lived through terrible abuse on a ship and finally found himself in charge of his own destiny.  The lyrical writing allows the reader to journey along and experience the joys and challenges of complete solitude and exposure to the elements with very little protection.  Well done.
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As a fan of Gary Paulsen, I had high hopes for Northwind. Unfortunately, Northwind fell short of what I hoped for. The survival story that Paulsen does so well is there, but it was hard to connect with the setting. I kept thinking about the students who would potentially read this, and I felt that they would have a hard time connecting with the story and setting as well. Overall, this was what I expected from Paulsen, even though I couldn't completely relate to the setting. Hopefully, students will still enjoy Northwind.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of the book. all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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A dreamy tale of a young boy alone on the northern seas. This was a fitting last work by the late Gary Paulsen.
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I’ll be honest… I’ve never read a Gary Paulsen book before this one. While I enjoyed Northwind, I felt like the way it was written took some getting used to and was sometimes hard to follow. The book follows the story of Leif, a young boy who has spent most of his life being sold from ship to ship and working hard out on the ocean. He did not have many good experiences on these ships, but is used to life on the water. North wind is the story of Leif’s journey after he leaves a camp because everyone there is getting sick and dying. One of the men tells Leif to head north in the canoe to avoid the death in camp. He has quite a journey north and learns about himself and how to live with and in the world around him. Gary Paulsen has a great love of the ocean and wrote many of his stories and love for the water into this book. It was interesting but at times slow. This would probably be better for middle school & up because of the detail and there is a bit of language. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy.
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For all the students who read the Hatchet/Brian books, this is a book they may want to read even as adults. For the current generation of students, it still has great appeal as middle graders struggle to find their places in the world. It is an odyssey, a child born on the docks, orphaned, raised by the occasional sailor, sold or traded from one ship's crew to the next, he becomes a survivor. When he truly does become alone, due to cholera outbreaks which have killed those around him, he understands that he needs to flee. An old sailor once told him to head north, so he does. Paddling his dugout canoe, with a small bag of his belongings and an infant he rescued, he finds himself more alone than he ever has been in his life. He encounters deadly whirlpools, glaciers, whales and dolphins who want to play with his boat, attempting to toss it about. 

This is a thoughtful book, one in which readers will find themselves engaged. Perhaps they, like Leif, will also choose to follow their own star. I wanted to know more about Leif and what other adventures he might have had, but as we have come to the end of an amazing run of Paulsen's books, we will have to be content to leave Leif paddling north.
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This is an adventure story about a boy called Lief who is an orphan at an early age.  He ends up with a group of fishermen doing the chores no one else wants to do.  A group of people come to their camp and bring a terrible disease, so Lief's guardian sends him and another boy away to the north in a small canoe.  The other boy dies and Lief falls ill but survives. He understands that the reason he was sent away was that no one was expected to survive the illness, so with out any real plan, he continues north.  He catches fish and eats berries, makes mistakes, and sees lots of wildlife.  The story ends without a clear resolution but it's an interesting and well told tale that Paulsen describes as a collage from stories that his grandmother used to tell him.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Gary Paulsen’s most likely final book returns to his Nordic roots. Leif, age 12, has grown up on fishing ships. One day, Leif, Old Carl, Young Carl, and a few other sailors are left on an island while the rest of the crew go out to fish. While there, they are visited by another ship where the men are sick, dying, or dead. These foreign sailors spread the virus (most likely cholera) to the crew. Old Carl send Leif and Young Carl away since they weren’t sick yet but soon they both come down with the disease. Leif survives, barely, but Young Carl does not. Leif continues alone, surviving off the land and water.
The feel of this book is very much like Hatchet but more gruesome. Paulsen describes in full horrifying detail the suffering and death from cholera. This is not for the squeamish! SPOILER: The ending wasn’t really satisfying – thought there could be more, like, how will he survive the Nordic winter? Perhaps Paulsen was planning a follow-up book like the Brian series. Anyway, I did enjoy this book. I would recommend for grade 6 and up because of the graphic descriptions.
#Northwind #NetGalley
This title will be available January 11, 2022.
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Leif's short life has been full of hardship. Orphaned at birth, he was raised communally by a remote village, then pressed into backbreaking labor by everyone. His first chance at freedom is a plague that strikes down the whole community, nearly killing Leif as well. He comes out the other side of that ordeal with a handful of tools, an agile canoe, and the urge to keep heading north as far as he can go. His journey is both arduous and awe-inspiring. Paulsen captures the majesty of nature, but does not shy away from the gruesome details of Leif's fight to survive.
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This is a Middle Grade. I know this book was not for me the second I picked it up, but I did try to read it. The writing in this book is like one really long poem. This story also is storyline/plot driven with vivid descriptions of events/what happen. I like a book that is more character driven, and I love to really get to know the characters in book. This book does not have take going on. This book is not for the light hearted person because there is very detailed parts about killing animals and other stuff like that. I received an ARC of this book. This review is my own honest opinion about the book like all my reviews are.
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It is only fitting that the final book being published by Gary Paulsen is similar in so many ways to his book that has made many students fall in love with reading in the first place, Hatchet. Similar in feel, tone, language, structure and theme, Northwind is a story unto itself, but will cause readers to make connections to the "Brian books" as they read it. As in that series, the main character here, Leif, finds himself alone in an often hostile environment with only a few rudimentary tools and his own will to help him survive. This book does not take place in current times, however, but instead is set in the time of the Vikings, and a plane wreck is not the cause of Leif's predicament, instead it's cholera that wipes out the adults around him. The story takes off as Leif finds himself traveling northward, not sure of where he will end up, but certain he will know when he gets there. There are encounters with whales, glaciers, and whirlpools which threaten his life, but in each act of nature, he also learns more about himself and his place in the world. This book will keep readers engaged until the very end, and they will find themselves better humans, more aware of the world around them, after reading it. I wish there was more to Leif's story, and I believe readers will also find themselves wanting to know what other adventures he had, but if we have to come to a conclusion with Paulsen's incredible stories, this one is a perfect tale to end with.
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Northwind
Gary Paulsen

Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan (Farrah Straus Giroux) for this free copy in exchange for my honest review.

This middle grade novel may be the audience the author was targeting for this story but it is an adventure that will reach all the way up to an adult age group level. As a reader of Hatchet in my younger years I found this story to be similar in adventure and the writing style is one akin to anything a reader has come to expect from Gary Paulsen. 

The story takes place on the ocean in the Northern Pacific when a young orphan boy’s village is taken over by a life threatening disease. The boy sets out in a canoe to head North away from the sickness that is killing off his people. The descriptions of the fjord-riven shorelines are so vivid that I could clearly see these places in my mind. His interactions with the life around him were playful as you would expect of any young boy. “Young whales, above all, love to play and the young ones did not see danger in the perfect toy…” referring to Leif as he interacted with the whales he encountered. The game the whales played with the canoe as if it were a “wooden feather… pushing the canoe back and forth across the surface.” was delightful. 

It was very touching as Leif sought to know his mother through his journey as we watch him grow into a survivor. Keeping track of events on his story boards became vital as he too saw the growth that he was experiencing. 

I was not ready for the story to end and I felt that the author may have had thoughts of a sequel never to be realized with his unexpected death. His legacy will live on as readers will cherish his writing for ages to come. God bless you, Gary Paulsen, for sharing your stories with us for all these years.
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So many of Gary Paulson's books inspired me growing up and fueled my love of animals, nature and adventure. Hearing of his passing I was so saddened and I picked up Northwind, his last published book and devoured every page. Reminiscent of Hatchet, Northwind sucks you into a whirlwind survival tale where characters are pushed to their limits to live just one more day. 

Leif, an orphan, flees his small village when a deadly plague begins making people sick. Taking a wooden canoe, he paddles north along the fjords and coastlines, unsure of where to go, but knowing he can't go home. 

This book was riveting and captivating keeping me glued to the pages until the end. Middle grade readers will love this tale. Hatchet was focused on the woods, whereas Northwind focuses on a boy's connection with water. This was a nail biter, and I held my breath in several moments until our young adventure found safety. This book will inspire the next generation of young adventurers to go out there and explore the limits of their own survival.
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How sad that Gary Paulsen won't be writing any more books for us to enjoy but what a book Northwind is for the last one.  Gary Paulsen's writing has never failed to give me shivers while reading the books he wrote and this one is one of the best yet.  How someone with such a great love of the ocean and her creatures ended up in the desert I don't know but his love of water shines through this whole book.
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I loved this book.  It was like Hatchet.  I didn't expect to like it and I loved it.  The encounters with the orcas was so real, I felt like I was looking into the eye of the orca.  I will be purchasing this for my library and sharing with with all of my readers.
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Paulsen is a master of description. Truthfully, sometimes I wish he wasn’t so great, as he chooses to describe terrifying situations to a T. However, rarely can I get his books out of my head, and as an educator his books are my go to when I want to read a book as an example of description. Plus, my kids that love the outdoors always love picturing themselves in these harrowing tales. I rarely find a person, adult or child, that has read books like Hatchet and not been affected by them. So, this is EASILY a true five star book for me. I highly recommend it to kids and adults!
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