Emory's Gift by W. Bruce Cameron
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Publisher: Forge Books
The Story: After 13-year-old Charlie Hall’s mother dies and his father retreats into the silence of grief, Charlie finds himself drifting lost and alone through the brutal halls of junior high school.
But Charlie Hall is not entirely friendless. In the woods behind his house, Charlie is saved from a mountain lion by a grizzly bear, thought to be extinct in northern Idaho.
And this very unusual bear will change Charlie’s life forever.
My Review: I had heard of Bruce Cameron's other book, A Dog's Purpose, but I'd never read it. I knew it was a best seller and had been getting lots of attention from some of my reading friends, but that wasn't why I picked up Emory's Gift. In fact, I think it was more fate than anything. I was standing in line at BEA for a completely different book signing and someone walked by and just handed Emory's Gift to me. I don't think I even saw the person's face. When I looked down and saw that "Emory" was in the title, I already knew it was going to be a keeper, as I have a son named Emory.
After getting home from BEA, I kept seeing this one on my shelf and finally decided I'd take a break from my usual YA paranormal readings for something a little different. I have to tell you, I was not disappointed.
Charlie is thirteen and is having a hard time adjusting to the loss of his mother and the subsequent depression of his father. More than a little sad himself, Charlie turns to the wilderness surrounding his rural home in Idaho. While fishing near his home, Charlie is saved by a grizzly bear that happens to be more than just any grizzly. He has a name (Emory) and appears to have been reincarnated.
Reincarnation is only one of the themes of this novel and it's certainly not the most prominent. As Charlie grapples with what it means to be growing up into a man as an eight grader, his memories of his mother and the dilapidated relationship with his father, it's just a matter of time before things come to a head. You might think that reading about a bear that has a name and a past isn't believable, but Cameron really pulls this element of the story off. I found myself just as drawn to Emory as Charlie was.
I loved Charlie's sense of humor and his constant crushing on girls around him. His daily challenges as a young teenager were right on and endearing. This emotional read had me laughing out loud more than once and tears brimming on plenty of other instances. Truly uplifting, I adored this book.
Emory's Gift is a tale of love lost and found, forgiveness, and most of all, hope. I read this book almost straight through. It was just what I needed and definitely a book I'll be reading again. It's poignant, enchanting and everything I want to remember from childhood. Quite simply, I loved every single word of it and highly recommend Emory's Gift.
P.S. Be sure to stop back by tomorrow for a guest post with W. Bruce Cameron and a chance to win a copy of this amazing book for yourself!