The Bear by Claire Cameron was, for me, a very unique, unexpectedly heart wrenching read. A former wilderness guide, Cameron used a twenty-four year old real life bear attack as her inspiration. In the fall of 1991, a couple was mauled to death by a rogue black bear on an isolated island in Ontario’s Algonquin Park. With bear attacks being rare, what drove the bear to kill has remained an unsolved mystery. The author worked in the park at the time of the attack and used both her intimate knowledge of and scholarly research about the killings as the background for The Bear.
I will admit it was difficult to get into the flow of this book. It is written from the perspective of a five year old girl after she and her two year old brother are spared from the jaws of a bear that attacks and kills their parents. The run on sentences and slightly gibberish words were hard to get used to at first. However, at about the midpoint of the book, I started to appreciate why the author chose to write in such a fashion. This story is about the rawness of the wild as well as the resilience of the human spirit, specifically in the form of a child. Near the end of the book a definite shift takes place and I realized that much of what was happening and how it was being portrayed was a form of personal coping. When this thought occurred to me, I began to weep, for the magnitude of what had happened to these poor children became crystal clear. To both me and them.
This is not a book you read in a few hours. It is one that may take you some time to get into but will leave you with a greater admiration for both the power of nature as well as the pull of the human heart.
Next up on the book shelf: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White