Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Frightful's Mountain (Jean Craighead George)

Frightful's Mountain
(The My Side of the Mountain trilogy, Book 3)
Jean Craighead George
Fiction, YA Adventure
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: When she was ten days old, Frightful the peregrine falcon was taken from her nest by a boy and raised as companion and hunter. He meant well, and loved her as dearly as she loves him, but Sam didn't understand what he'd done: not only was it illegal, but Frightful imprinted on humans, and her highly endangered species can't risk the loss of a breeding female. Reluctantly, Sam let her go... but Frightful can't forget her human or her home in the hemlock tree, even as her instincts wake with the freedom of open skies and the call of of her own kind.

REVIEW: The third in George's My Side of the Mountain trilogy strikes a different tone, putting the reader alongside - but not inside the mind of - Frightful the falcon. By not putting human thoughts into her head, the author preserves a degree of mystery and wildness in the nonhuman star. Frightful struggles to adapt to her Sam-less existence, often caught in a tug-of-war between memory and instinct. Along the way, she intersects the lives of numerous humans, some old acquaintances and some new allies (or enemies), as well as other animals and falcons. The story sometimes meanders between adventures, even as it discusses the plight of raptors, the many threats facing wildlife, and the frustration of conservation efforts thwarted and fouled by bureaucratic red tape. Not all the birds have happy endings, here, and not all problems have easy solutions. Along the way, we see enough of Sam and Alice to watch their final phase of growth, as they, too, shed their fledgling feathers and take flight in their own lives. I came close to clipping the tale for some soft spots and wandering, but ultimately granted it a full four stars. Like all of George's books in this trilogy, it's a love letter to the marvels of nature and a wake-up call to the humans on whom the wilderness now depends for survival.

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