I had two reviews submitted for this book on the same day, both by people who don’t tend to read this kind of story. I am going to post both of them, because they are both really interesting perspectives. My conclusion? I will read this book, while holding my children, with all the lights on. And try not to think about it the next time I go camping with my kids in Algonquin.
I did not want to read this book. The Author’s Note made it clear that this was no warm, fuzzy anthropomorphic bear-meets-person tale. It was fiction, but based on a true story. So, I did not want to read this book, but I glanced at the first couple of pages and found it riveting.
It is told in the voice of a young girl, almost six years old. Like a typical six-year-old, the narrative is a stream of consciousness, sometimes linear, sometimes darting backwards or sideways as something catches its fancy. The author inserts enough information for the naïve and innocent child to pass on the most chilling facts while not understanding completely what is happening. The juxtaposition of brutal violence with childlike self-centredness is deeply unsettling.
Once I started, I could not release the book’s grip on me, even though I felt like hiding behind my couch for the whole time it took me to read it. The author made me feel how Anna, the little girl, must have felt.
I cannot say I am glad that I read The Bear, but I have it inside me now, like the black dog in the book.