The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling
Little, Brown and Company; 2020; 175 pages
Content Warnings: Gun violence, death of a parent, PTSD
About the Author: “Dusti Bowling grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, where, as her family will tell you, she always had her nose in a book. She released her first middle grade novel in 2017 and hasn’t stopped writing since. Dusti’s books have won the Reading the West Award, the Sakura Medal, a Golden Kite Honor, the Silver Nautilus Award, and have been nominated for a Cybil and over twenty state awards. Her books are Junior Library Guild Selections and have been named best books of the year by the Chicago Public Library, Kirkus, Bank Street College of Education, A Mighty Girl, Shelf Awareness, and many more. Dusti currently lives in New River, Arizona with her husband, three daughters, a dozen tarantulas, a gopher snake named Burrito, a king snake named Death Noodle, and a cockatiel named Gandalf the Grey.” (Bio taken from the author’s website.)
One year ago, Nora’s life changed forever. A random shooting left her and her dad alone in the world, and ever since, Nora has been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. A year after that terrible anniversary, the two of them decide to explore a slot canyon in Arizona, hoping that it will restore a little bit of normalcy to their lives. But when the unthinkable happens and Nora’s dad is washed away in a flash flood along with all their supplies, Nora is suddenly lost, alone, and struggling to survive. Faced with desperate circumstances, Nora must overcome her fears if she wants to save her father and find the courage to live another day.
This was truly an exceptional book. Written in a mix of prose and verse, the creative structure brought me directly into the story and made me feel as if I was experiencing Nora’s suffering with her. I haven’t read many books that take place in my desert backyard, and this one was crafted so well that it brought a smile to my face every time an Arizona or desert reference was made. Bowling’s writing is fast-paced and urgent but also lyrical and fluid, making it easy and enjoyable to read this high-stakes survival novel in one sitting. Nora’s struggles with PTSD felt realistic and heart-breaking, but as she began to discover the strength she possesses, I found myself cheering her along. Readers will be able to sympathize with themes of loss, fear for the future, the love of a family, and the fight to find one’s courage. Fans of middle grade survival stories and novels written in verse will love this powerful book.
(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.)
PRR Writer, Wendy Waltrip