In His Father’s Footsteps
Fourteen-year-old Jason struggles to survive North Ontario and his own fears in his quest to find his father. But when he finds his injured father, his battles are not over. Is he strong enough to save his father and get them both back home?
He should have been back by now. He said he would return by the next full moon. Eight days had come and gone. His father was never this late.
Jason Sharman stared up at the October sky. The only light came from the pale first quarter-moon that shimmered and quivered in the indigo darkness. Folklore bestowed the moon with magical gifts, personified it, gave it life. Right now, Jason wished it did have special powers. He wished the moon could speak, could give him the answers he needed, tell him the path he needed to take. But first you had to believe, believe in the myths, believe in the magic, and Jason didn’t. He didn’t believe in magic, or myths or anything else he couldn’t see or touch.
Jason and his father have been growing apart the last few years, but that doesn't mean that Jason isn't concerned when his Dad doesn't come home from a prospecting trip around the time he promised he would be back. Jason, being the eldest boy of 14 years old, knows it is up to him to make the trek to his Uncle's house to see if his Dad is there or if his Uncle has seen him. Jason figures if nothing else, his Uncle can then go with him to find his Dad. Surprise is the word when Jason gets to his Uncle's house and finds that he has a broken leg and can't help him at all. Jason must go it alone, a long and dangerous trek to his Dad's old cabin in the woods. He knows it will be a long and hard time of it, especially since he hasn't been there for years. He has the company of an old gold dog though. He seems to be following Jason, not too closely, but isn't too far off either. Jason is an animal lover and has a way with them, so he hopes to befriend the dog along the way too. Jason is put to the outdoors-man's test through his journey to the cabin that's for sure. Will he make it to the cabin to look for his Dad? Will his Dad be there and be okay? What will he do if things take a turn for the worst and he gets lost or hurt himself? How will he travel back home again?
This was a bit of a different read for me. It was a mystery, but in a wonder what will be the outcome, kind of way instead of a "who done it" way. I found it a refreshing, easy, and quite entertaining read. The descriptiveness used in the writing of this book is absolutely amazing, I felt like I was making the life threatening trek right beside Jason. I could feel the emotions of Jason through the writing also, it was as if I was part of him. I think all teens are like Jason at some point. Think they don't need parent time much because their friend time seems so much better, but in the end all teens learn that parent time may not be so bad after all. I picked up this book one night and read it until I just couldn't stay up any longer reading. Then I picked it up the next morning and didn't put it down until I had finished the book. I almost felt like the longer I took to read it, the longer Jason's journey would be. Silly, but because I felt like part of the journey, it's how I felt. The characters were great, even though you may not see much of some of them, they still are able to make an unforgettable impact on the reader. Also, because Jason is the main character and the one you follow the most, I left this book feeling like a best friend of his. He is such a brave boy, even though he isn't sure he can be. I also loved the character of Trapper, the shy and distrusting dog, that seems to take to Jason and wants to follow him to protect him in some way. As an animal lover myself, I can totally appreciate Jason's feelings about the dog and wanting to help him and feed him if he can. This was just a great read and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and easy read that you just can't put down because it's so good. Once again this author amazed me and I am so glad I got to read this book!
Jan 04, 2014 Michelle Randall rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: coming-of-age, e-book, reader-s-favorite
Reviewed for Reader's Favorite.
At some point in everyone's lives there came that time when we stopped looking to our parents as our idols and role models and started letting our friends be the bigger influence. In His Father's Footsteps is a tale of just that time in a young boys life. He has reached that age when the influences of school friends are making the life and lessons his father taught seem old fashioned and out of date. As the story progresses and Jason is called upon to track his father and bring him home, the skills and lessons his father taught him become the things that he must rely on the most. Bev Irwin does a wonderful job of twisting teenage angst and survival into a compelling adventure for children and teens of all ages.
The story is so easy to relate to because, at least as an adult we all can remember a time when we felt the same way. Our friends were more important and more knowledgeable than our parents. Bev Irwin does a wonderful job of blending those feelings with the struggles to find his father and bring him home. In his Father's Footsteps is heartwarming to adults and a lesson to teens. This book could be read by either and enjoyed. The coming of age story, the unique setting and adventure, make it captivating. It might not be all that long of a book, but I still couldn't put it down until I had finished it all. I wanted to see where the story went and how the relationship between father and son finally turned out.
Bev Irwin’s In His Father’s Footsteps, a boy’s wilderness adventure story, is a welcome change from the trendier types of teen fiction. I was predisposed to like this story because I grew up in northeastern Ontario, regularly visit family there, and know of teenagers like Jason who live on remote farms in the bush and bus to town schools. As the story opens, 14-year-old Jason Sharman, is worried about his father who has failed to return from a solitary prospecting expedition. His strong, powerful father is skilled at living off the land and supplements their income from their woodland farm in the “near north” part of Ontario by panning for gold on a claim he shares with his brother, George.
Jason decides that he and his Uncle George must go and find his father. Irwin, the author, gives very specific detail about the equipment Jason packs for camping out in autumn. The inclusion of green garbage bags and antibiotic cream indicate that the story takes place in the recent past. Since Jason’s uncle is injured and cannot come with him, Jason sets off into the bush with only a map. Fatigue, rough terrain, and potentially dangerous animals pose big challenges. A friendly yet wary dog accompanies Jason on his journey.
Throughout the novel, the author achieves a good balance between the lyrical and the practical. Descriptions of terrain and scenery and sightings of animals close up are alternated with productive activities such as fishing to supplement the rations brought from home.
Although Irwin brings “on stage” quite a few animals and hazards in a short period of time, their presence is more convincing than the contrived plot twists I’ve encountered in reading other contemporary teen novels. Jason’s endurance, skill and heroism are a result of his knowing survival skills, skills which young readers can learn if they wish.
Youths raised on vampires, wizards and futuristic technology may be surprised to see what Jason can achieve with his “low tech” old-fashioned equipment. These days, with juvenile fiction dominated by speculative fiction, Irwin’s novel stands out for its realism.
The novel is presented in the third person from Jason’s point of view. Readers learn that recently there has been discord between father and son:
“Dad was angry Jason didn’t want to fish and hunt anymore. Dad had been his idol until he became a teenager and disillusionment had set in. Now Jason wanted him to be like the fathers of his friends in town.”
The rift between them intensifies Jason’s urge to find his dad. Wisely, at the end, Irwin does not make Jason renounce his contemporary interests and commit forever to a traditional life close to nature “in his father’s footsteps.” Instead, she shows Jason’s sense of achievement from practising the skills his father taught him, and the mutual love and respect between father and son.
A resident of Ottawa, ON, Ruth Latta is revising an historical novel for teenagers, The Songcatcher and Me, to be published in 2013. Her most recent novel, The Old Love and The New Love, is available from firstname.lastname@example.org.