Written by Wendelin Van Draanen
When her behavior escalates out of control, fourteen-year-old Wren is taken away to a wilderness therapy camp where she is forced to develop new skills, including the courage to ask for help.
Primary Source Pairing:
Wren is struggling. The landscape is not helping. As the story develops, Wren is struggling less and the landscape is helping considerably. Wildnerness therapy works for Wren in ways she would have never predicted. The staff and her fellow campers are part of Wren’s recovery, but the power of nature’s healing cannot be dismissed. When Wren goes on her quest, the rain, wind, snow, wide-open space, and even a coyote or two help her find herself and guide her toward who she wants to be. For this primary source pairing, invite students to study a photograph of the Utah landscape taken by photographer Carol M. Highsmith. Encourage student discussion on the role of the setting in Wren’s healing.
Questions for Discussion:
- What do you notice first?
- Find something small but interesting.
- What do you notice that you didn’t expect?
- What do you notice that you can’t explain?
- Make a connection to Wren’s description of the landscape in the book with something you see in the photograph.
- Why was the setting of this story important? How would the story have been different if the setting was somewhere else?
Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Utah. Hovenweep ruins” photograph: photographed by Carol M. Highsmith: Library of Congress