Twelve-year-old Dani is running away from home, or what's left of home anyway. Her older brother, who had muscular dystrophy, died a few months ago. Then her father left and her parents got divorced. Now home is just Dani and her sad, silent mother, and Dani's got to get away. She plans to do something amazing, and go where her parents will never find her: she's going to hike the whole Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. The trail is a legend in her family, the place where her parents met, fell in love, and got married 14 years before.
Unfortunately for her master plan, her mother doesn't have much trouble figuring out where Dani's gone. Now it's the two of them, hiking for as long as Dani can manage to persuade her mother to keep going. But Dani's got an even longer emotional journey to make--and it's one she and her mom need to make together.
Gr 5-8-Grieving over the recent death of her 13-year-old brother from muscular dystrophy and the breakup of her parents' marriage that immediately followed, 12-year-old Dani runs away from home, intending to hike the Appalachian Trail, where her parents met 14 years earlier. Her mother tracks her down in the middle of her second night away, and Dani convinces her to accompany her-first for a few nights, then for a week, and finally for just over two months. Along with discoveries about the natural world, Dani also finds the capacity to hike and to heal emotionally. She improves her relationship with her mother and is able to return home with a changed attitude that will allow her to mend fractured friendships. This is a fairly standard coming-of-age novel with the added benefit of Dani's mother also growing and healing during their time together on the trail. Although they must return home and resume their normal lives, they vow to continue their hike in sections until they complete their goal, which ends the novel on a positive note and hints at a continued closeness between mother and daughter. The book's setting provides a unique backdrop to their mutual journeys of discovery, and an afterword supplies an abbreviated history of the 2163-mile Appalachian Trail.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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July 06, 2003
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Excerpt from Halfway to the Sky by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
March 1 3326 Holston Drive, Bristol, Tennessee Miles hiked today: 0 (so far) Total miles hiked on the Appalachian Trail: 0 Weather: bright, mid-50s, very windy I went through my pack one more time. Sleeping bag, pad, tent, stove. Fuel, food bag, toothbrush, towel. Extra shorts, shirt, tights, fleece jacket, one each. Extra socks, sock liners, underwear, two pairs each. Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap. Maps for the first leg. One small notebook, a few handwritten lists, and a photograph of Springer. I tightened the drawstring and lifted the pack carefully onto my shoulders, then fastened it around my hips and across my chest. Fully loaded, the pack weighed 33 pounds on the bathroom scale. Fully dressed, I weighed 115. That was counting my boots, which were nearly a pound apiece. It was a Wednesday. I should have been in school. I looked around my room. Pink walls--we painted them when I was seven. Flowered bedspread, the bed neatly made. My soccer ball, the only thing I wished I could take but couldn't, and the trophies and the posters and the dolls. Everything painfully neat, dusted, wiped clean. I looked around and thought, It should not be so easy for a twelve-year-old girl to run away. But it was. I clicked the door shut and went across the darkened hall and down the stairs. Sometimes our house seemed like a museum, full of stuff but not a place where people actually lived. The kitchen was antiseptic. Mom scrubbed when she couldn't sleep at night. Lately that was most of the time. I paused in the foyer and hit the Record button on the answering machine. I cleared my throat. "Look, Mom, it's me, Dani," I said, in what I hoped was the right sort of voice, half angry, half sulky. I'd picked a fight with her the night before on purpose to give me an excuse to sound like this. As usual, she had left the house before I woke. She worked strange hours these days, and not because she had to, either. Who ever heard of starting at seven in the morning at a bank? "I don't want to live with you anymore, okay?" I said to the machine. Sulk, sulk. "I'm going to Dad's for a while. Maybe forever. So don't call. Bye." I hit the button again, and the little light started blinking. Messages--1. Two nights before, Dad had told me he couldn't see me this weekend because he was going out of town. So when Mom did get around to calling, he wouldn't be there. I figured I'd have a whole week to get away. I didn't think they'd guess where I'd gone. The Appalachian Trail was a legend in our family, but my parents had quit telling the stories about it long ago. I went to the front door, opened it, hesitated, went back. Springer's room on the first floor was dark and stale-smelling, the curtains drawn, the hospital bed shrouded with a plain white sheet. Clean vacuuming lines ran up and down the carpet, untouched. No one had stepped inside for weeks. I didn't either. "Hey," I said softly, "I'm leaving now. I'm doing this for you, too. Okay?" It shouldn't be easy for a thirteen-year-old boy to die. But it was. I locked the door on my way out. The Greyhound depot was in the middle of town, a twenty- minute walk away. I had already bought my ticket to Gainesville, Georgia, and no one asked me questions. I'd thought they would. I'd thought someone would wonder why I was alone, why I was carrying such a heavy pack, why I wasn't in school. There were six other passengers at the Bristol stop. None of them paid any attention to me. In a car it would have taken less than five hours to reach Gainesville, but on the bus it took all day. We stopped, and stopped, and stopped again. Once, I got off to pee in a dingy station, but other than that I stayed put with my pack wedged in the space in front my knees. When I got hungry, I ate some of my raisins. I didn't get thirsty or tired. I looked out the window and tried not to think abou